Keep the City Safe

If you thought America’s war on crime was over and the bad guys were all in jail or on the run, think again: over Father’s Day weekend in Chicago, 46 people were shot. Nine died. All in about 48 hours.

New Yorkers have grown accustomed to historic drops in crime and to streets that are safer today than they were in the early 1960s. Many of us might assume that what’s happening in Chicago couldn’t happen here, not now, not after 20 years of tough, smart policing and strong leadership in City Hall.

Guess again.

There are very troubling indications that New York might slip back to the days when entire neighborhoods were free-fire zones and thugs terrorized rich and poor alike.

If that sounds alarmist, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to the rhetoric of this year’s mayoral candidates and to the U.S. Justice Department. The would-be mayors and the federal government apparently have decided that the New York Police Department, which has served as a global model of policing for the last two decades, requires the supervision of amateurs and busybodies who prize political correctness over public safety.

In other words, they want to put handcuffs on cops, rather than on thugs.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the leading contender to succeed Mike Bloomberg, has been vocal about a plan to create a new office of inspector general to oversee the NYPD. She dismisses legitimate concerns about the department’s chain of command and other issues—as if she somehow knows better.

Speaker Quinn is not alone in her disdain for the NYPD: several of her opponents have questioned the public safety record of the Giuliani-Bloomberg years and have promised to dismantle the department’s highly successful stop and frisk policy, which has saved hundreds of lives over the last few years. Anti-cop ideologues love this sort of rhetoric. Of course, most of them live in relatively safe neighborhoods and will not bear the consequences of the pro-thug policies they advocate.

Meanwhile, even as demagogues score radical-chic points with their cop-bashing rhetoric, the U.S. Justice Department recently proposed that if a federal court throws out stop and frisk, it should also appoint a monitor to oversee the NYPD.

That would be an absolute disaster. The actions of every cop on the street would be subjected to second-guessing by people with little or no firsthand knowledge of urban policing. As Mayor Bloomberg said in his strong condemnation of the Justice Department’s intervention, “I don’t know what experience they have in the streets of New York City.”

The mayor was too kind. Those who proposed a monitor for the NYPD have no experience in the streets of New York City. But they have lots of experience in politics, and that’s what this is all about.

So pay attention to what’s happening in Chicago and other urban areas where thugs have no reason to fear a pat-down from the cops. If you think the Giuliani-Bloomberg legacy of low crime and great policing can’t be undone in no time flat, you are gravely mistaken.