The most important function of government, at all levels, is to provide safety for its citizens. Everything else takes a back seat to one’s physical security. If you’re not safe in the street, in the local supermarket, or even in your own home, what is the point of having a government? As a retired New York City cop, who patrolled, and supervised the streets for 20 years, I have seen the slow erosion of respect for authority. My earliest recollection of that erosion occurred one hot summer night in Bedford/Stuyvesant, known back then as the Harlem of Brooklyn.
My partner and I stopped a black man, who was driving an unlicensed taxi, during an era in which “gypsy cabs,” cars for hire, were operating without the certified approval of the city. As a result, there were some drivers with criminal records who appeared safe to the unsuspecting public but in fact were ex-cons with convictions for violent crimes. After several incidents of rape, robbery, and murder attributed to the drivers of those illegal hacks, the NYPD began a campaign to take them off the road.
In the incident referred to above, as we questioned the driver, a crowd gathered and became hostile when the driver loudly proclaimed that he was being harassed. We called for backup and tried talking to the slowly forming mob, as the combative driver resorted to loud racial accusations, despite the fact that my partner was black. Soon, with several other radio cars on the scene, the mob began to get ugly. With the police radio buzzing with orders from superiors to control the situation, a police line was formed between the illicit driver and the unruly throng of local residents.
Before long, superior officers on the scene received orders from on high, namely, the mayor’s office. Cops were told to “stand down” and not make any arrests. There we stood, a long line of uniformed officers watching meekly as a throng of young thugs started fires in those tall, metal litter baskets on street corners. When they saw no reaction from us, they started kicking the baskets over, spilling the burning garbage onto the roadway. We looked toward a captain on the scene, who merely waved off our consternation. “Just stay put,” he commanded. We did, providing a reticent form of agreement with their lawless behavior.
All of the foregoing was the precursor to many violent riots that became almost routine across the country when liberal mayors directed their police departments to back off. What the police are dealing with now is a direct result of not following the “broken windows” philosophy of criminal justice. To wit: When minor instances of social disorder in urban areas are ignored, it contributes to an atmosphere of lawlessness that encourages more serious crimes. A quick peek at crime stats today will testify to the wisdom of that philosophy.
Just look at New York for example. A frightening wave of recent incidents involving innocent victims includes a terrifying attack that took the life of a veteran EMS lieutenant on her way to get lunch in a restaurant in Queens. The brutally psychotic stranger knocked her to the sidewalk and stabbed her 20 times for no apparent reason. Thugs are caught on video pushing innocent bystanders onto the subway tracks as trains are approaching. Recently, a shocking video emerged of a homeless man targeting a total stranger at the JFK Airport subway stop. The suspect, with a criminal past that includes the killing of his grandmother when he was 14 years old, repeatedly punched and kicked the mother of two small kids, who almost lost an eye after the vicious, unprovoked beating.
The operative word is “unprovoked.” There once was a time in which a street assault occurred only after some sort of dispute between the parties. Not anymore! People are being randomly chosen as victims of sucker punches to the face, or worse. What’s really scary is that the public is getting so used to seeing this barbaric behavior on video clips that people merely sigh and flip over to a Netflix movie. It’s hard to blame them for not wanting to be terrorized by the possibility that one day they may be the person getting pummeled to the ground while out shopping.
All of this could have been prevented if they’d have allowed the police to do their job without fear of constant vilification by the left-wing gang of radicals that seek to create chaos, then blame law enforcement for being feckless. The fact is that New York, and every other large city, has a well-trained army of crimefighters that could deter this epidemic of slaughter on the streets of our cities. No thug, or gang of thugs, would have a prayer against that army. Another fact is that the decent people in those inner cities want the police to do their job of preventing crime and arresting criminals. Yet, because they fear retribution from the local gangs, they’re afraid to speak out in protest, which makes them hostages in their own neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, the elected officials who give lip service to the problem have plenty of taxpayer-provided security for themselves. That puts us in the inexplicable position of paying taxes to protect those elected officials who won’t do their job to protect us. Moreover, to add absurdity to insanity, they want to disarm the vulnerable while coddling the incorrigible. Until common sense is restored, the slaughter will continue.