NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed Friday that the city’s officers conducted a department-wide slowdown in the weeks following the deaths of two NYPD officers. Bratton’s statement contradicts denials by Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head, Patrick Lynch, that any work stoppage or slowdown was being enacted.
In an on-air interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel, he stated: “We’ve had the opportunity over several days now to take a close look at the numbers and we are quite clearly–or were–in a slowdown. It is being corrected. We’ve been taking management initiatives to identify where it’s occurring, when it’s occurring. 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.”
When asked by Siegel to comment on Lynch’s remarks that the reduction in NYPD arrests and tickets was due to the reduction of solo police patrols, Bratton replied: “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 drop-off of activity. We did double up traffic enforcement agents who normally work by themselves so that in and of itself would reduce the number of summonses…. But overall, there were just a lot of officers who were not performing to their normal level.” Despite the slowdown, Compstat numbers show an overall decrease in criminal complaints through the first week of the year.
Since the days of former Mayor Rudy Giulianni, the NYPD has hung its hat on enforcing quality-of-life statutes with the theory that aggressively policing minor offenses would serve as a deterrent for more serious crimes. Commissioner Bratton, in particular, has trumpeted the “broken windows” theory. When asked by Siegel to comment on critics’ claims that there are too many “quality-of-life” summonses, Bratton was quick to defend current policy. “We can step away from quality-of-life enforcement for a period of time, but the vast majority of our quality-of-life enforcement is citizens asking us to come to deal with the aggressive beggar, the prostitute, the marijuana smokers in their hallways.”
It appears that since the end of the slowdown, there has been a significant surge in police activity. According to Gothamist, anecdotal evidence suggests that the NYPD is working to make up for lost time.
It has been a tenuous last several months for the NYPD, starting with the choking death of Eric Garner last summer at the hands of officer Daniel Pantaleo. Garner’s death, and the subsequent non-indictment of Pantaleo, led to protests throughout the city and across the nation. The ire of the NYPD was raised following the deaths of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Adding to the discord, comments by Mayor Bill DeBlasio regarding having to teach his son about ensuring his safety when dealing with local police had a detrimental impact on the relationship with the department and the mayor.
The full Bratton interview can be heard below courtesy of NPR.
Image courtesy of Diana Robinson