The Police and the Public
Visualize the video of people tossing buckets of water at officers who walk with heads down to their squad cars; hear about a bystander throwing milk at a policeman attending to an emergency. These occurrences are not an indication of poor community relations. It shows a defiance of authority and that abuse goes unpunished. What is behind this? Some are calling it the Pantaleo effect, although it preceded the firing of the officer blamed for Eric Garner’s death. According to Chief of Department Terence Monahan between 8/19 and 8/25 there was a 30 percent drop in arrests and summonses. He added that the NYPD would continue to safeguard New Yorkers from serious crimes. Most people obey the law and appreciate order in the public domain; they rely on the police to maintain it. Those who would break the law defy authority if the consequences such as arrest do not occur.
An officer I approached on Columbus Avenue was reluctant to discuss morale but then said, “It’s low.” Under Mayor de Blasio and his administration the police lack support. The firing of Pantaleo and withholding of his pension reinforced their vulnerability. As in any profession there are some police who deserve condemnation. But when politics causes the police to stand down or face possible vilification, the bad actors in the community can cause havoc.
Unless there is a change for the better during this and future administrations I anticipate a continued decline in the quality of life in New York City. There will also be fewer recruits to the police department.
Ruth Cohen, MD
Upper West Side
Hierarchy of Risk
I am surprised and dismayed that you chose to publish Janet A. Davis's anti-bicycling blame-the-victim piece "New York is Not a Doll House." Davis espoused that cyclists should be banned from certain streets to allow more space as "Cars and trucks jockey for lanes as they move toward their goals." I would like Davis and others that share her view to think critically about the hierarchy of risk associated with various levels of transportation in New York City. A car speeding through a red light may wipe out a group of people crossing the street. A bicycle is unable to inflict such damage. Our city would be far more safe if zealots like Ms. Davis concentrated on railing against dangers posed by vehicles rather than "low-hanging fruit" bicyclists, who are also trying to "move toward their goals."
Upper West Side