The police officers of the City of New York have a tough job. They, along with firemen, emergency medical services, medical personnel, etc., were the ones who stepped into the breach 13 and 1/2 years ago after the terrorist bombing of the City. Now, over a decade later, they have become afflicted with a deadly disease. That deadly disease is that they have come to believe that they are above reproach, above criticism, and above legitimate scrutiny. This disease was only fed by the grand jury who refused to indict any policemen in the recent death of a citizen, even though the coroner labeled it a homicide. The outcome has been the second intolerable lack of respect expressed at the funeral of the second recently assassinated NYC police officer.
Sadly, the president of their union supported their actions saying:
After Liu’s funeral, Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association told reporters that some officers “feel like they were turned upon by City Hall and we have a right to express our opinions as well, and they did respectfully.”
Officers who turned their backs when the mayor spoke did not act, Lynch said, “inside a church, not inside the service, but outside where it should be done, on the streets, like we have a right to do.”
The officers were not turned upon by City Hall, anymore than they were turned upon by the Coroner who found that the actions of the policemen on that day constituted homicide. We should expect a mayor to take quick action when possible evidence of official misbehavior turns up. In fact, we do expect that, often insisting that any mayor anywhere “fire” any aide who commits a possible act of misbehavior. Yet, the police officers of the City of New York have consistently behaved as though their actions are above scrutiny.
For those of you who are fearful of government overreach, there is nothing that should concern you more than a police department who sees itself as immune from scrutiny, particularly when you have Coroners declaring homicide. You should also be concerned about the reaction that all too many have had that if a police officer does it, it must be OK and legal. The rulings of the Coroners should give you pause, unless you are arguing that police homicide is automatically justified. But, if you are so arguing, then beware that those same police persons do not someday become the very repressive force that you so fear.
From Libertarians, through Tea Party members, through classical Liberals, many have argued the dangers of unchecked government power. There are few powers that can be more easily abused than the power to stop, search, frisk, and even physically batter and kill a citizen. That is why the Constitution insists on limits on searches and seizures. That is why the Constitution insists that it must be a non-law enforcement officer who grants the warrant. That is why the Constitution insists that a jury must be a civilian jury.
Yet, what we have had lately demonstrated by the police officers of the City of New York is precisely the attitude that their actions are above any check and balance system. Their demand for respect is not based on the Constitutional respect for law and order, but on the premise that we must obey them and treat them as unquestionably correct in their actions. That is not what our Founding Fathers intended when they spoke of civilian militias, civilian juries, civilian government, and civilian oversight. I actually agree with Libertarians, Tea Party members, and Liberal Democrats that we need to be cautious of government overreach. These law enforcement officers amply illustrate the dangers of government overreach.
So, it may be time to turn our backs on the police officers of the City of New York. It may be time to do so, not as an act of disrespect, but as an act of the utmost respect for our Constitution and as a message that their misbehavior is not to be tolerated. The police officers need to learn again that we are a citizen nation, not an uniform controlled nation.