Thursday, August 8, 2019

As Police Prestige Declines, Crime Increases and Civilization Weakens: The Unraveling of Law and Order

In the latest of a string of municipal police stand-downs, New York City officers slunk away after a jeering crowd dumped water on them. In a separate incident in Harlem, an officer was hit on the head with a hard-plastic bucket. This retreat from an assault on the law was not as consequential as that of Portland police who did nothing as journalist Andy Ngo got assaulted and injured by Antifa thugs, but it bespeaks a dangerous trend: The growing disdain for the prestige of law enforcement officers, who now are politically handcuffed and prevented from doing their jobs.
That this latest embarrassment happened in NYC makes it even more revealing. Throughout the Nineties, crime in the city plummeted: Violent crime dropped by more than 56%, and property crimes 65%. Murders peaked at 2245 in 1990, then started to decline, particularly after Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor in 1993 and instituted changes in policing, such as the “broken windows” crackdown on misdemeanors like subway turn-style-jumping that created an atmosphere of disorder and lawlessness. Along with more police on the streets, more criminals put in jail, and tactics like “stop-and-frisk” of suspects, these changes contributed to the steep decline in murders. By 1999, murders had fallen by 73%. In 2018, there were 289 murders, almost half as many as Chicago, which has about one-fourth the population of New York.
That success demonstrated how the prestige of the police, their success at stopping crimes, and the respect for their authority that follows from their active presence in the public square, deters potential miscreants and improves the quality of life for citizens––especially minorities, who are the most frequent victims of violent crime in big cities.
But sometimes reinforcing this authority requires a physical response when a civilian continually resists even verbally an officer’s orders. I learned this lesson in my rural, multi-ethnic high school. The students were equally divided among white, black, and Mexican-American. This meant every few years there’d be an interracial gang fight, which brought out local sheriffs and highway patrolmen. Once, while I was watching the show, a white kid started to enter the fray, lunging between me and a highway patrolman. The officer told the student to stay out of it. The kid lunged again, and the officer grabbed his arm and gave it a pull. On the third try, the patrolman bounced his nightstick on the kid’s head, and he hit the ground with his eyeballs spinning like a slot-machine.
Years later, I had a refresher course in how to avoid unpleasant encounters with the police. I was in D.C. with a couple of university colleagues, sitting in a cab after dinner at Union Station. The cab in front of us wasn’t moving, because the East African driver was being hassled by three black “youths.” The driver obviously did not want to transport them where they wanted to go. Yes, he profiled them, based on the hard experiences of cabbies who end up maimed or dead for not being as careful. After a few minutes, two D.C. policemen, black men who looked like they played linebacker for the Redskins, approached the group. We couldn’t hear what was said to the officers, but one of the cops didn’t like it–– he suddenly lifted the offending punk off the ground and slammed him against the cab. He then advised the group in very colorful language we could hear that they should not frequent this area. The kid wasn’t hurt enough to need medical care, but he and his fellows did get the point. And to show it wasn’t a question of race, our black cabby defended the black policemen.
Read the rest from Bruce Thornton HERE.

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