To the Editor: The way the eight NYC Democratic mayoral candidates danced around the conflicting issues of police crime-fighting on one hand and racial profiling and excessive force on the other, I thought I was watching the political version of the moves of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or the Nicholas Brothers.
Bill Bratton, Jack Maple and John Timoney proved that in order to reduce crime dramatically, the police have to be proactive, they have to focus on criminal patterns, and plainclothes officers are absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the "Broken Windows" strategy of making arrests for minor offenses, especially subway fare-beating, is necessary to prevent more serious crimes and reassure the law-abiding and vulnerable public.
South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn said that to make police reforms that have a real effect, training is not as important as recruiting the best people: men and women who are dedicated to public service. However, the idea of sending social workers to domestic disputes instead of police officers is ridiculous. Domestic-dispute calls are the most dangerous jobs that police officers handle, especially when weapons are involved.
What police officers need to know is what Harvey Schlossberg (the former NYPD Police Psychologist) and Lieutenant Frank Bolz taught NYPD cops in the 1970s. That is, that unless someone is being hurt or is in imminent danger, time is on the side of the police. Instead of using immediate physical force, now especially the taser, on an emotionally disturbed person (EDP), the police should wait, talk, and try to let the EDP calm down—for as long as it takes.
Most of the mistakes that police officers make resulting in death or serious injuries to an EDP are caused by aggressive officers who are anxious to control a suspect quickly. This is the wrong way to handle these jobs unless someone else is in imminent danger.
I hope the next Mayor consults with experts on policing like Bill Bratton, and doesn't fall for the self-destructive strategy of defunding the police.
MICHAEL J. GORMAN
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