To the Editor: Michael Fiaschetti was a NYC police officer and a protege of the legendary Lieut. Joseph Petrosino, who was murdered by the Mafia in Sicily in 1909. The "Italian Squad," headed by Petrosino, battled the Black Hand and the Mafia, but was not very active after Petrosino's murder due to fear of assassination.
Police Commissioner Arthur Woods reformed the squad in 1918 and made Fiaschetti the commander. In his book, "You Gotta Be Rough," Fiaschetti argued that cops have to be tough when dealing with career criminals, especially mobsters. The same holds true today.
Most police officers in NYC are both compassionate and proactive; they enforce the law without bias and without violating the rights of suspects. However, reform and improvements must be made and they are being made. CVR Section 50-A, which made all personnel records of police officers, firefighters and correction officers confidential and not subject to inspection or review—except by permission of the officer or through a court order—was repealed by Governor Cuomo, and that is an important step toward police reform.
However the unfair and irrational attacks on all NYC police officers by many demonstrators and anarchists, as well as many hypocritical politicians, have got to be countered with some strong doses of rationality, fairness and practicality. "Defund the police" means exactly what the words mean—not some redefinition, massaged by political hacks running for office. What is the real message from "defund the police?" I would argue that there is an idiotic implication that if there are no cops in a given area, there would be little or no crime there; that is, cops really "create" or amplify and exaggerate crime to keep themselves necessary and indispensable.
Do we really want to go back to 1990 when NYC had 2,245 murders? If the NYPD is emasculated or castrated by politicians, crime will go back up, and the poorer communities will have most of the victims. Bad cops have to be fired; good cops have to be encouraged and legally protected.
One important issue that police reporters are well aware of, but have not recently mentioned, is the numbers game played by police supervisors who know that their promotions—above the rank of Captain—often depend on crime-reduction numbers, summons numbers, and formerly, the number of stop-and-frisks conducted. A police officer who wants to "serve the public" is often restricted and limited by the numbers games (quotas) demanded by police supervisors.
This is not to defend a cop on patrol who has never made an arrest—there are some—but half of police work is really social work, often inextricably linked to crime-fighting. It's not one or the other. The many good cops, dedicated public servants, have to be allowed—and should be encouraged—to serve the public without unnecessary and unfair interference and criticism.
The abuse given to NYC cops by some demonstrators, and defended and encouraged by some politicians who know better, is unfair and counterproductive. Good police officers have thick skins, but they will not be able to do their vital jobs effectively if they continue to be blamed for all that is wrong and unfair in our society.
MICHAEL J. GORMAN
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