font-family: 'Arizonia', cursive; Michael Stichauf - "As I understand it now...'til it changes": January 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

N.Y.P.D.'s Self-Imposed Work Stoppage

As I started to write this article, I took a quick look at my title again and realized something; my title could also read, "N.Y.P.D.'s Self-Imposed Arrest Stoppage". I say this because, to a certain degree, that's exactly what has happened. 

December 31st brought to a close what many people might consider one of the toughest years that Police Departments across America have had to endured since those halcyon days of the late 1960s. Just as Wall Street learned with the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, America's Police Departments have learned also, that the American public has found it's voice. The people have decided that they are
no longer willing to cower in the corner, hands over their ears, eyes and mouths and take the abuse that Police Departments have been dishing out for years. Unfortunately, two New York City police officers lost their lives as they sat together in their patrol car by an individual who said that the recent "officer involved" shootings inspired his murderous act. Not a situation, I'm sure, that the many well-meaning protesters wanted to have happen! Yet, this senseless act alone should cause many policy makers in New York, and across the country, to consider new policies so they may benefit ALL Americans- police officers AND the public. A serious problem has developed here in America which the policy makers need to address as the rest of the world stands by, knowing that America now exists in a new state of being, "The Police State".

As a result of the senseless murders of two of their own and a sudden Siberian cold spell atmosphere between "New York's Finest" and their boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the N.Y.P.D. have decided to protest themselves. Only, their protest won't include placards with catchy phrases or protesters walking the endless circle of defiance shouting snappy one liners. No, the N.Y.P.D. has decided on a "work slowdown"! Well... actually... it's turned into an almost downright, "arrest stoppage"! In an article dated December 29, 2014, the "New York Post" reported that N.Y.P.D. arrest stats for the period of December 22, 2014 (two days after the double homicide of the officers) to December 28, 2014, for what's considered "low-level policing", dropped 66%! According to other news outlets, officers are being told to make arrests only when they have to and that now, their safety comes first. 

Courtesy of N.Y. Post

Comparing the stats for the same time period from last year, it's easy to see that this isn't just a normal drop for these particular arrests. 92%-94% drop rates indicate that the N.Y.P.D. is basically saying, "We, the New York City police officers, have decided to not make any arrests or write any summonses for these particular offenses". In fact, the stats for one of the most controversial offenses, drug offenses, also dropped by the amazing amount of 84%. For the same week last year, 382 drug suspects were arrested compared to 63 this year! No matter how you look at it, percentage or individuals, this is an amazing stat! Although not listed above, drug offenses are also included in the 66% drop in the overall percentage. 

Okay, so this is where things stand after the first week of the "work stoppage". What is so amazing and the point upon which this whole story turns, is the fact that while the N.Y.P.D. was applying their "work stoppage" and the arrests for those low-level crimes became almost non-existent, the city of New York wasn't commandeered by thieves, thugs and "dopers". The sun actually rose in the east and set in the west so, we must ask ourselves, "Did the N.Y.P.D. actually expose something that they never intended to expose"? Did this whole act of trying to tell us that we shouldn't mess with them or else they'll stand by and let the crooks rule the city, backfire on them? 
Stop and Frisk

Maybe this little stunt by the N.Y.P.D. really has back-fired. The last few years in New York, the police department has been under fire for their "stop and frisk" policy, basically applying it to only the poor and disadvantaged. Many critics say that it is a veiled policy meant to harass and burden the many immigrants and less fortunate individuals in the city. I'm sure the police department can furnish mountains of stats that supposedly back up this policy but, are we willing to take the word of a department that for years has been the subject of numerous civil suits for the abuse and mistreatment of their citizens? There have been many stories of other police departments that have skewed their stats to support whatever it is that they want to pursue. Many experts in the field of policing, professors and other professionals, still say the verdict is out on this particular policy. Some even admit that it's a policy that, in the long run, does nobody any good because of the ill-will it fosters. It's a similar line of thinking that's been applied to the "War on Terror". Everytime we kill a "terrorist" or their friends, we create 2 or 3 more new, young, angry "terrorists. Everytime the N.Y.P.D. arrests another citizen for a meaningless, petty crime, they create another new, angry citizen, as well as that citizen's family. We can't afford this. The citizens and police officers of New York AND the rest of the country CAN'T AFFORD THIS!

What we need to ask the police is this; "If we just went a week of arresting 66% less of the citizens of your city and the city didn't fall apart, why don't we try this particular policy for the next week? Why don't we try it for the next month? How about a year?" Let me tell you, I'll bet a few of those officers who were standing around watching as Eric Garner was being "arrested" for selling cigarettes would have rather been chasing a burglary suspect or maybe some other violent criminal than spending their time looking for someone committing a crime that he'd only be fined for in the long run.

"Companies don't hire felons!"

That also brings me to my next point. All these "quality of life" arrests that the police have been told to crack down on, the parking tickets, the "urinating in public", the "public drunkenness" and the kind, these are all offenses that are punishable by fines. Yes, they usually spend a few days in jail after being arrested but in the long run, they usually get off with a fine. Sure, nobody likes to see someone urinating in public but to be honest with you, it really doesn't ruin someone's day. None of these "low-level" crimes ruin anyone's day, anyone that is, except the person being arrested. Yet, they are the crimes that the police in New York have been told to crackdown on. These are the crimes that the less fortunate of the city, the poor and the immigrants, are being arrested for. What the politicians are really looking for is a way for them to be able to make money for their budget. I believe they are referred to as "back door" taxes. Over the years, politicians have found sneaky ways to add money to the coffers of their cities without raising the taxes on their citizens. These are the "crimes" that the citizens of New York are being arrested for. What the politicians haven't been able to learn is that once an individual has been arrested, and in most cases they've plea bargained to receive little or no prison time, that individual's ability to get a decent paying job becomes almost non-existent! Companies DON'T hire felons. Whether that's illegal or not, they find other ways to tell them, "Sorry, but you're just not right for the job".

"I asked you a question!"
An arrest and/or conviction for an individual has socio-economic effects upon that individual's psyche and their pocketbook. Without rehashing the debate about whether to legalize drugs, lets use an example of a young man- in his middle twenties- who's never committed a crime in his life (assuming smoking marijuana doesn't rise to the level of anything more than a municipal ticket and a fine). Two or three times a week he might go and purchase a $5 bag of marijuana to smoke to relieve the tensions of his stress filled work day. He's working a job that barely keeps his wife and two children from being homeless and starving. God knows he can't miss a single day because of a cold or the flu because his boss needs every one of his workers to show up every day so he can keep his family from being homeless and starving. Up until this whole "stop and frisk" policy came along, this man would, on his way home from work, buy his marijuana from a friend or an acquaintance (somewhere other than these "open-air" drug corners that sell heroin and cocaine and are always being watched by police). Putting the marijuana in his pocket, he'd maybe stop at the store to pick-up a few things for dinner. The man gets home, eats dinner with his family and the night goes on as normal. The next day he gets up and goes to work. No problem. Now, "stop and frisk" is the order of the day. Our young man goes to work, stops at his friend's house to buy $5 worth of marijuana, gets his groceries for dinner and as he's walking home he hears someone yell, "Hey buddy! Yo, stop!" The young man turns around to find two of New York's finest, asking him why is he walking so fast? Walking fast? The young man thinks to himself, "I wasn't walking fast." Never having something like this happen to him before, the young man gets nervous and starts to sweat, maybe even shake a little. One of the officers says to him, "I asked you a question! Why you walking so fast? Let me see your I.D." As the young man gives the officer his I.D., his hand is starting to shake. The officer says to his partner, "Hey partner, he's up to no good. Look at his hand shaking." As he laughs at the young man with that, "I've caught you now" laugh, the officer takes the bag of groceries out of the young man's hands and pushes him up against a brick wall to search him. He immediately finds the bag of marijuana and handcuffs the young man and takes him to jail. The instant that police officer yelled to our young man to stop, that young man's life and the life of his family, changed forever! Mind you, this young man has never committed a crime in his life. 
Rikers Island

The next few days, as well as the next six or eight months are the worst time in this young man's life. He will first spend anywhere from a couple days to maybe six to eight months (depending on whether his family can afford the bail) in a place called Rikers Island. The Island is a jail where defendants spend their time while waiting for trial. Here, he is subject to any number of things, all of which are injurious to his physical, as well as, his mental well-being. He not only might have to defend himself from other inmates, he might also have to defend himself from the guards, as well! Within the last six months, the jail has had several arrests of guards and resignations due to brutality upon inmates as well as a possible federal civil rights intervention! Yet, even if he's lucky enough to avoid these things, the mental strain of having to ALWAYS be on his guard against them is enough to damage one's psyche! 

Aside from this nightmare of spending time in jail, this young man has lost his job. His boss can't be a man down in whatever business he's in. Miss a day, well, you better be there tomorrow! Miss two days, forget about it! You're fired! The rest is pretty easy to figure out. The opportunities for another job for this young man are almost non-existent now that he's gone through the criminal justice system here in America. Unfortunately, this is an all too many times told story, especially in New York since they've instituted "stop and frisk". Hundreds and thousands of lives have been turned upside down over meaningless crimes that the politicians have deemed mandatory, which demand mandatory arrests, for the well-being of their city.

So, I guess the next question for the N.Y.P.D. is simple. If you are, now, only making mandatory arrests for what can only be assumed to be mandatory crimes, then these arrests you've not made, for what used to be mandatory crimes, must not be mandatory anymore? Consequently, if the city has survived the N.Y.P.D. not making these, previously mandatory arrests, then that means it will survive from now on without making them anymore! It's really not a hard concept to understand. Not only will this mean that the lives of the individuals you used to arrest will be better off but the relationship with the N.Y.P.D. will begin to mend, hopefully.

It's funny how things end up working. The N.Y.P.D. decides that they are going to teach the city a lesson by going on a "work slowdown". Yes, the city did learn a lesson! They learned that all these "low-level" crimes that officers had been spending all their time on, really aren't the answer to the problems of the city. Even most of the officers, if asked to answer truthfully, would tell you that they'd rather not spend their time being the "bagmen" of the "backdoor" taxes that the politicians, who haven't the guts to raise taxes legitimately, have enacted to fill the voids in their budgets! These officers would rather spend their time chasing down "real criminals" who actually do harm other citizens! That's police work. Not being bagmen! 

"Okay folks, schools out. I hope you've learned your lesson today". "Why yes, Mr. Police Commissioner, we learned a boat load today!"

That's, "As I understand it now... 'til it changes"
Thanks for reading!
Michael K. Stichauf.