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Attacks on COs prefaced rise of assaults on cops


A recent article in The Chief reported on an 18.5-percent increase in assau,lts on NYPD officers last yeark with police union officials denouncing “liberal criminal-justice laws” (“Felony assaults on cops spiked last year,” Jan. 5).  

Paul DiGiacomo, the president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, blamed politicians who created laws he said were “ineffective and embolden the criminal element.” The message from those elected officials, he added, was that “it’s OK to assault a cop.”

Staten Island’s borough president, Vito Fossella, suggested, “The first thing we have to do is stand united and support our men and women in blue.” And the president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Lou Turco, said when cops are assaulted justice “gets lost.” 

I want to add another piece to this law enforcement puzzle. 

In 2014, disrespect and assaults on city Department of Correction officers began to multiply in city jails and there was no push back from politicians, DOC commissioners or the district attorney’s office. 

For the past 10 years, it’s been “OK” to assault a correction officer. As a result, now some believe “it’s OK to assault a cop.”  

Justice gets lost when a cop is assaulted and it is barely viable when a correction officer is assaulted. Only the most egregious assaults against COs are prosecuted. 

Disrespect and loss of control preceded the epidemic of assaults and violence in NYC jails. 

About 10 years ago, the loss of control in DOC was in its early stages. There has been little support for correction officers from elected officials and even less from DOC commissioners. Further, city officials did not stand united and support the DOC’s men and women in blue. To this day there is anarchy and lawlessness in the city’s jails with daily assaults on officers and attacks with feces, urine, blood, seminal fluid, sour milk, toilet water and saliva that number in the thousands yearly.  

The assaults have soared to astronomical levels since 2014 with almost no accountability. The vast majority of detainees who attack COs do not serve additional jail time, are rarely arrested and will not even go to confinement because of the current restrictions and the new legislation that will completely ban solitary confinement in NYC jails.   

Nobody cares! 

Similarly, the city witnessed nascent lawlessness in 2019 when on-duty uniformed police officers were drowning in disrespect and doused with buckets of water while on patrol and and trying to make arrests.    

However, unlike DOC’s timid top leaders who were not and still are not willing to embrace a “Profiles in Courage” moment because of a perceived career risk of speaking truth to power, police bosses, to their credit, made media appearances and aggressive public statements rebuking the criminal behavior and calling for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those committing these crimes.  

For 10 years, correction officers have been the face of a city and an agency perceived as feeble and inert. Unfortunately, the same now appears to be true for police officers. If elected officials and the Department of Correction would have pushed back when correction officers first started getting assaulted, I submit the recent increased felony assaults on police officers would not have occurred.  

Emboldening feelings of immunity and impunity are present when the law is ineffective and criminal prosecution is lacking. These are two of the direct causes of the recent increase in assaults on cops.  

Attacks on correction officers foreshadowed the increase of assaults on police officers, yet NYC and DOC recklessly disregarded the growing clamor of calls for help by COs. In fact, the assaults increased not only in number but also in severity year after year.  

The correction officer was the canary in the coal mine. The canary died and the warning was ignored. 

Marc Bullaro is an adjunct assistant professor at John Jay College and a former DOC intelligence commander.

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  • adwdwa

    So True Mr Bullaro, when there is no respect for authority within a jail, that disrespect carries over to Society at large. Hence that mindset of Lawlessness carried out against Correction Staff, is now felt by police and civilians. Right on point Marc.

    Tuesday, January 16 Report this