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Taibbi on the NYPD’s “work stoppage”

January 1, 2015

Matt Taibbi wrote this excellent article for Rolling Stone in which he points out that the NYPD’s ludicrous “slow down” highlights exactly the kind of abuse and racial disparity in law enforcement that people have been protesting.

As a result of what the foaming at the mouth Policemans’ Benevolent Association perceives as a hostile anti-police environment in the city government following the murder of two policemen in Bed-Stuy, the union issued an order to its members to not make any arrests unless they “have to,” resulting in a 94% decrease in arrests and ticketings. In other words, 94% of the arrests and tickets the NYPD issues are unnecessary in their own words.

[T]his police protest, unwittingly, is leading to the exposure of the very policies that anger so many different constituencies about modern law-enforcement tactics.

First, it shines a light on the use of police officers to make up for tax shortfalls using ticket and citation revenue. Then there’s the related (and significantly more important) issue of forcing police to make thousands of arrests and issue hundreds of thousands of summonses when they don’t “have to.”

It’s incredibly ironic that the police have chosen to abandon quality-of-life actions like public urination tickets and open-container violations, because it’s precisely these types of interactions that are at the heart of the Broken Windows polices that so infuriate residents of so-called “hot spot” neighborhoods.