Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
search  
 
Subscribe   Subscribe   MI on Facebook Find us on Twitter Find us on Instagram      
 
 
   
 
     
 

New York Post

 

NYPD: Heroes In the Dark

August 21, 2003

By Heather Mac Donald

NEW Yorkers have been congratulating themselves for the low level of looting during last week’s black-out. This feel— good story of a kinder, gentler New York leaves out a critical factor in the city’s respect for the law during the crisis: a highly-trained police department.

Had the NYPD not been as masterfully deployed as it was during the power failure, many more store owners would today be counting their losses and the reputation of New York would not be riding as high.

Looting is the quintessential crime of opportunity, and the police made sure to deny would-be looters their big chance. The first window was smashed on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Ave. less than five minutes after the lights went out. The department immediately erected barriers along the avenue and maintained a highly visible presence there for the rest of the night.

It did the same in other areas hit in the 1977 black-out thievery, as well as in neighborhoods marked by recent shootings — a sign of a criminally-disposed population.

The cops started making arrests soon after the power stopped, and in large numbers — up to two dozen parasites at a time. Getting these early birds in custody stopped them from wreaking further havoc and sent a strong message to copy cats that lawlessness would not be tolerated.

Admittedly, some of the looters weren’t much of a challenge for the police. Twenty three would-be sneaker thieves cut into the roof of a Brooklyn Foot Locker store and dropped to the floor below, intending to walk out the door with their booty. They hadn’t noticed the locked gate blocking their exit. The police picked them up like cockroaches trapped in a Roach Motel.

Two key strengths allowed the NYPD to protect the city during the darkness: training and manpower.

Since 9/11, the department has been preparing for a catastrophic attack. When the electricity halted last week, top brass responded as if it were a terror strike. They gave full authority to the commanders of all eight patrol boroughs, an anti-terror precaution in case One Police Plaza were to become incapacitated.

The NYPD has been drilling this so-called stand-alone plan obsessively, so when a disaster finally struck, commanders knew how to get their officers in the right places quickly. The borough commanders promptly called in all off-duty officers and extended shifts to 12 and 16 hours.

None of this deployment could have happened, however, without a critical mass of officers. In 1977, the city had 15,000 fewer cops than now, a consequence of its economic melt-down.

Disturbingly, the force is once again shrinking, though nowhere near the levels lost during the 1970s. The mayor and city council should take note: numbers matter. They must not let the department drop below its current staffing.

Liberal criminologists also have a few things to learn from the city’s recent relative calm: policing keeps streets safe. The academic world continues to deny the role of policing in New York’s record-breaking crime drop in the 1990s, wedded as they are to the idea that only social services and full employment can effect crime.

While the true story of why New York was spared the paroxysm of lawlessness seen in 1977 may not be as heartwarming as the hypothesis of a suddenly respectful, law-abiding populace, it should be just as reassuring to New Yorkers that its police force responds so capably to catastrophe.

Original Source: http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_nypost-nypd_heroes.htm

 

 
PRINTER FRIENDLY
 
LATEST FROM OUR SCHOLARS

5 Reasons Janet Yellen Shouldn’t Focus On Income Inequality
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 10-20-14

Why The Comptroller Race Matters
Nicole Gelinas, 10-20-14

Obama Should Have Picked “Ebola Czar” With Public-Health Experience
Paul Howard, 10-18-14

Success Of Parent Trigger Is Unclear­—Just As Foes Want
Ben Boychuk, 10-18-14

On Obamacare's Second Birthday, Whither The HSA?
Paul Howard, 10-16-14

You Can Repeal Obamacare And Keep Kentucky's Insurance Exchange
Avik Roy, 10-15-14

Are Private Exchanges The Future Of Health Insurance?
Yevgeniy Feyman, 10-15-14

This Nobel Prize-Worthy Economist Figured Out How To Destroy Terrorism
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 10-15-14

 
 
 

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Copyright © 2014 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
phone (212) 599-7000 / fax (212) 599-3494