Will the NYCLU face reality?
The looting that besmirched New Yorks otherwise admirable response to Hurricane Sandy carries a lesson for a trio of federal lawsuits now targeted at the NYPD. Lets hope that the judge overseeing those suits deigns to take judicial notice.
The loathsome behavior of the looters confirms that the Thin Blue Line is in fact a permanently needed barrier between civilization and anarchy.
The looting was concentrated wherever police precincts were evacuated due to flooding, reported The Wall Street Journal, such as on Coney Island, where the entire 60th Precinct was emptied out, and the 100th Precinct in the Rockaways.
Commercial victims included a Laundromat, Radio Shack, Brookstone, and a 99-cent store; the pilfered goodies featured the usual essentials of life so favored by ravaging scum ï¿½ plasma TVs and other electronic gadgets, cutting-edge sneakers, booze, pizza, lottery tickets and cash. The Post reported that thugs were also pretending to be utility workers in order to rob homeowners.
Across the city, burglaries had spiked 7 percent from Monday to Thursday over those days last year ï¿½ a number likely to rise as evacuees return and tally thefts from their abandoned homes.
Weve just lived through a demonstration of what happens when the police go away.
This sad evidence deserves notice in the courtroom of federal Judge Shira Scheindlin. Thats where, over the two weeks preceding Sandys cataclysmic arrival, the New York Civil Liberties Union and its allies, including attorneys from the elite law firm of Shearman & Sterling, challenged the NYPDs trespass-affidavit program.
In that program, officers patrol private apartment buildings for trespassers; the advocates claim it results in unconstitutional stops of innocent building residents and their visitors in The Bronx. Hilariously, the NYCLU seeks to appoint itself as overseer of how the department makes trespass stops outside private buildings in The Bronx. Two other pending suits make similar charges against the NYPD in other contexts and seek to radically curtail, if not eliminate entirely, its practice of proactive stops.
Joe Cicciu manages 70 rehabilitated nonprofit residences in the South Bronx, which he helped reclaim from the squalor of the 1970s and the 1980s. "It was the Wild West out there then, shoot or be shot," he recalls. During the anti-trespass stop trial, he tallied for the court some of the problems which the NYPDs trespass patrols have alleviated:
* Groups of young men congregating in front of and in his lobbies, where they smoke marijuana and intimidate the lawful, often elderly, residents.
* Urine in public areas.
* Mailboxes vandalized and used to store drugs
The trespass program has been "absolutely effective" in bringing safety and order to his tenants, he said.
Ciccio told Judge Scheindlin that no one has ever complained to him about officer harassment ï¿½ a claim that Scheindlin treated with the same contemptuous skepticism that she had directed at top NYPD brass as they outlined to her the departments assiduous efforts to follow the law.
Ciccio has a warning for the city: "If we let this trespass-affidavit program go, it will get as bad as it was in the 1970s, fast. All the good work that we in the nonprofit world did to revitalize the South Bronx will go down the drain if we let our guard down."
The NYCLU and other advocates who make a living suing the NYPD would undoubtedly dismiss such sentiments as hyperbole. And it would be nice to believe that 20 years of proactive policing have affected a cultural shift in the city; perhaps people have now internalized a due respect for the law.
In some cases, maybe thats true. But talk to any police officer or commander, and hell confirm Ciccius sense of the volcano that still lurks beneath the surface. The department needs to be at the top of its game at every minute, they will say, using every lever in its power in order to maintain the citys record-breaking, unmatched crime drop. Lose focus for just an instant, and the lawlessness could all come roaring back.
The post-Sandy looters ï¿½ jumping in as soon as the NYPD retreated ï¿½ could be the citys future.
One of the most effective tools that the NYPD has to maintain order is the ability of its officers to lawfully question people engaged in potentially suspicious behavior. As Judge Scheindlin decides whether to grant the NYCLU its desired injunction against the NYPDs trespass patrol program (and whether to grant even more sweeping relief in the other two anti-stop suits), she should recall the human storm that hit innocents in some of the citys poorest neighborhoods last week.
Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/looters_the_nypd_wCttv6emV7PViYbCqsgTMJ