Upd.: July 5, 2017 | 6:42pm     


OPINION: How our leaders are piling on the risks for cops

By Bob McManus

Let us be clear about one thing: Responsibility for the assassination of Police Officer Miosotis Familiain the Bronx early Wednesday lies with the man who pulled the trigger — career criminal Alexander Bonds, now deceased himself, happily, courtesy of the NYPD.

So let’s talk atmospherics.

It’s not just in New York City where cops increasingly are viewed as enemies of the public. Case in point, Chicago — where 60 people were shot over the July 4 weekend (eight fatally), and where the usual suspects are demanding federal oversight of the police department, without even cursory consideration of the culture that drives that tortured city’s endless bloodshed.

New York, for now, is different. Miosotis Familia died in service to a city that long ago confronted and defeated the pathologies that plague the South Side of Chicago — dramatically proving that reclamation is possible, if only the will is there.

But is New York’s will weakening? Is the city institutionally discarding the policies and practices that hauled it back from the abyss two-plus decades ago? And more to the point, as New Yorkers of goodwill mourn the death of PO Familia, are they turning away from the men and women of the NYPD?

The answer to the first question is an emphatic yes. The answer to the third is less clear, but not encouraging.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance last week put the tin hat on the core strategy that saved the city when it was the crime capital of America — broken-windows policing — when he effectively decriminalized turnstile-jumping. And he did so with the approval of the cop-bashing caucus that now more or less runs municipal government.

The City Council, for example, is working overtime to place every possible policy restriction and operational restraint on the NYPD. These range from body cameras on cops to spy cams in paddy wagons to mountainous paperwork to document individual interaction with the public — and to demands for the presumptive criminalization of violent police contact with civilians.

This can’t help but lead to more crime, which will fall most heavily on the public. And it most certainly will place cops at needless risk.

Take turnstile-jumping. It was once a prestige event in New York’s urban Olympics. But then the cops cracked down on it — and discovered that many of those they arrested had outstanding criminal warrants, and that many also were carrying weapons.

When word got out that turnstile-jumping could lead to serious criminal charges, there was a sharp decline in the practice. As a bonus, criminals began to leave their guns at home — and the salvation of New York City was under way.

Whether Vance’s new policy — and the abandonment of broken-windows policing generally — will lead to more guns on the streets seems clear: There’s certainly no reason to believe it won’t. Just as there’s no doubt about who will suffer if it does.

Be mindful that none of this is happening in a vacuum. Cynicism regarding the law in general is pervasive in the city. But while it’s driven both by agitation from those who find broken-windows law enforcement personally inconvenient, and the desire of politicians to pander to them, there’s more to it than that.

When City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito last month found it permissible — indeed, personally advantageous — to bounce about the city on the arm of a terrorist who murdered and maimed New Yorkers, she was also parading a message of contempt for the rule of law itself.

And when Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and so on through New York’s rogue’s gallery of elected officials failed publicly to object out of cowardice or conviction, they became complicit.

It’s hard to champion, say, sanctuary cities from one side of your mouth while preaching respect for the rule of law from the other. So New York’s political class has quit trying.

So over the side with broken windows. Over the side with immigration law. Over the side with consistent law enforcement, period. Just don’t be surprised when people notice, and begin to act accordingly.

Again, nobody murdered Miosotis Familia but Alexander Bonds. But atmospherics matter. A society whose leaders hold the law in contempt can expect its citizens to follow suit.

With tragic results.

Bob McManus is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.