Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bad idea

PANO President Michael Glasser invokes the image of NYPD officers turning their backs on Mayor DeBlasio in a complaint against Mayor Landrieu's stewardship of NOPD.  
Invoking a recent demonstration in New York City in which officers there collectively turned their backs on the mayor after shooting deaths of two officers, Michael Glasser, president of the quasi-union police association, says NOPD’s own ranks are “telling me they are thinking about whether to turn their backs on their mayor.”

“With daily crime rising and mega-events such as Mardi Gras looming in the near future — and a nearly five-year loss of personnel averaging one officer lost every three days in spite of aggressive hiring campaigns — NOPD officers are watching the events in New York and thinking,” Glasser wrote.

“The fact is, it is you, Mr. Landrieu, who has turned YOUR back on THEM,” he added.
This is a bad idea for several reasons.  The police union's complaint against Landrieu is about personnel management.  Under Landrieu, NOPD brass has taken several questionable measures to subvert civil service rules, most notably the creation of a "commander" position that allowed former Chief Serpas to more quickly hire and promote personal favorites.   Now the mayor and his allies have succeeded in destroying civil service  altogether despite PANO's legal challenges to these "reforms."

Glasser is expressing legitimate gripes. This point, in particular is worth noting.
Glasser also accused the mayor of killing a progressive pay package for officers and replacing it with “a nominal and perfunctory raise, knowing full well it would be offset by rising health care costs.”

“The week the raise was announced, eight NOPD officers left to join the State Police,” Glasser wrote. “The very same State Police you implore to stay here; officers you beg to come back wearing a State Police uniform but would not lift a finger to keep here wearing their NOPD uniform. And again, the citizens pay the price.”
This week on Twitter, folks were asking just how many NOPD have deserted to the State Police recently.  Anecdotally, I know of at least one case but Glasser is claiming it's a widespread phenomenon. 

Despite all of this, Glasser's suggestion that NOPD adopt.. or even reference.. the "turn your back" protests is bad news.  The NYPD gesture is meant to defend what they apparently see as their own entitlement to brutally murder.. citizens without being called to account. For Glasser, borrowing the imagery of that disgusting display in order to make his legitimate argument is not going to win him many friends... at least not among the public. 

Furthermore, Glasser's scaremongering that crime is "on the rise" in New Orleans is itself a dubious claim.  It does tap into a prevailing anxiety but, while violent crime is a problem, it isn't demonstrably any worse than what we've been accustomed to. In 2014, we saw the murder rate decline while the number of "non-fatal shootings" increased. Maybe our aim is worse. That's not exactly good news but it also isn't Armageddon. 

On the other hand, outsized local hysteria over violent crime is a sort of an evergreen issue.  And as the city continues to gentrify, that hysteria is only likely to get louder. Which means that NOPD always has a well of public sympathy to draw from.  But not if they squander it by tacitly endorsing the NYPD's racist and muderous ugliness.

No comments: