NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton suggested that police were unfairly singled out as the problem in what is a broader discussion of race in America. He also “confirmed there had been a work slowdown by officers in the weeks since two police officers were shot dead,” but he defends his department.
“We’re talking about a much more complex, larger national issue — don’t go blaming the police,” he said. “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be the whipping boy, if you will, for this issue in America.”
At issue in this latest NPR interview with Bratton was the perceived work stoppage. Bratton both conceded that it exists, yet also seemed to suggest that lower numbers pertaining to some police activity were partly the result of an increased presence after the recent shooting that took two policemen’s lives.
“We’ve been taking management initiatives to identify where (the slowdown) is occurring, when it’s occurring,” Bratton told NPR’s Robert Siegel. “I think the officers themselves have, on their own, been beginning to return to normal patterns of work. So we’re coming out of what was a pretty widespread stoppage of certain types of activity.”
The comments come days after Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, told Siegel there was no slow down. He attributed the decline in crime statistics — arrests and summonses for minor offenses are down dramatically — to the New York Police Department doubling up its foot patrols and patrol cars after the Dec. 20 shooting deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
Bratton’s response today: “That would be one factor in terms of the decline of some of the numbers, but it would in no way influence significantly the overall dropoff of activity.”
Bratton also seemed to indicate that black males are indeed treated differently by the police, but that it somehow wasn’t their fault. “He acknowledged that African-American men experience harsher treatment than their white counterparts, but noted it was not just at the hands of the police.”
Relations between the NYPD and Mayor Bill De Blasio are tense following the deaths. Scores of officers turned their backs on the mayor at the funeral for the officers.
As NPR’s Joel Rose reported, rank-and-file officers say De Blasio “contributed to an anti-police climate by not cracking down on protests after the death of Eric Garner,” who died in police custody. Police unions say that climate fed into the shooting deaths of Ramos and Liu.
Bratton would not specifically discuss the Garner case, but told NPR’s Seigel: “Life would be so much easier if people didn’t resist the police in the first place and there would not be altercations. Life would be so much easier in the first place if people didn’t engage in activity that resulted in other citizens calling, complaining about their activity.”