Walking the City: The need for better traffic enforcement?
I grew up in Los Angeles. Cops in Los Angeles get some respect, scandals related to racism and brutality aside. NYC has the same kind of scandals related to racism and brutality. But cops here don't get no respect.
First time my wife went to Los Angeles to meet my family, she was astonished by how fit LA and Santa Monica cops were and how aggressively they enforced the law. By contrast, when I recently was a victim of identity theft and was EXPLICITLY told by my banks, the FBI. and the FTC that I should file a local police report with my local police precinct, my local police precinct blew me off, refusing to accept a police report of a clear and documented identity theft crime.
There is a problem here!
I am pro-cop. I see it as one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in the world. But I also strongly object to the racism that becomes part of too many police forces, usually due to a small minority of cops but protected by the majority. Same with police brutality, sadly perpetrated by a small number of bad cops who are protected by a majority of cops. And then there is just plain laziness. When my bank, the FBI and the FTC all agree that a local police report is necessary but the local precinct refuses to listen, there is a problem,
But this also came up recently when I was discussing local politicians on the liberal website Daily Kos. I was confronted with someone who asked me why traffic offenses were almost completely ignored by the NYPD even in cases where injury or death occurs due to the negligence of a driver. Now I was not able to confirm the specific charges this person was suggesting, but I DO know of a few instances of kids in my own neighborhood being killed because of bad driving (seemingly illegal turns by the drivers) and no charges even contemplated by the police even though illegal actions by a driver led to the death of a child.
There is a problem here.
In this context, I was struck by a video of Bill Thompson, former Comptroller and candidate for mayor (NOTE: I endorse John Liu with Thompson as my second choice, so no real bias here!) tearing up at the Shiva of a Jewish family killed by a hit and run driver:
Now the cops did respond to this particular traffic offense. But when I see, pretty much daily, cars actually run red lights and cut off cops, ambulances and fire trucks while cops watch and do nothing, I wonder what these cops are thinking. They are destroying their own credibility. Having lived in cities from Los Angeles to Kyoto, Japan, I can say I have never seen cops that have a harder job than the NYPD, but also let so many crimes go in front of their own faces, and get so little respect from the people they serve. From what I see, the NYPD is way overworked and underpaid, but also has created the worst kind of laziness I have seen in public servants and this DIRECTLY leads to the NYPD being (undeservedly I believe) one of the LEAST respected and obeyed police forces in America.
Look, ANYWHERE in California, if you see a police car or are near a KNOWN police station you slow down and start obeying every law you can think of. Not so in NYC where running red lights and breaking other traffic laws RIGHT IN FRONT OF AN NYPD COP gets ignore by cops. So no one wants to listen to cops.
When the NYPD blatantly sits back when drivers ignore traffic laws, people die and respect for cops goes down. When the NYPD seems more interested in beating up protesters than catching someone who is sexually harassing women (a situation not so long ago experienced in Brooklyn) then people get hurt and respect for cops goes down.
I am criticizing the NYPD here. but I am doing so in the context of what I see as a pattern of poor law enforcement that actually lowers the reputation of our cops and perpetuates a "lazy" image of cops in NYC certainly compared to the image I know from Los Angeles. Again, I think the NYPD are among the hardest working and worst paid (thank you Bloomberg and Quinn!) people in America. But when people I know call in about a traffic offense and are blown off or when I call in AT THE ADVUCE OF TWO BANKS, THE FBI AND THE FTC, and I am blown off by my local precinct, I can't help but feel that our cops aren't doing a good job.