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New York Post

 

It's Not So Easy To Invite The Feds Out

September 24, 2013

By Nicole Gelinas

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Mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio wants the feds to run the NYPD — but not for long. He’d better talk to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu about that.

A mayor who embraces court-order police “reform” when it’s politically convenient can’t easily shed his federal bosses once he finds it inconvenient.

Last month, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin called the NYPD’s stop-question-and-frisk practices unconstitutional. She ordered “various remedies,” including “an immediate change to certain policies and activities”; she also appointed a federal monitor to ensure the department does what she wants.

De Blasio blasted Mayor Bloom­berg’s appeal (which stands a good chance of succeeding) as “wrong and deeply misguided” and promised to drop it should he take office.

But that’s strange. Even if de Blasio thinks Bloomberg has done a terrible job (even though murders this year are below last year’s record modern low of 417), all he has to do is wait.

He presumably thinks he’ll be mayor in 15 weeks — with, of course, his own police commissioner. Come Jan. 1, he can tell the cops to ease up on stops in minority neighborhoods — albeit at the risk of sustaining the recent drop in police seizures of illegal guns, and the rise in shootings, that we’ve seen since Scheindlin’s ruling.

As The Post reported, de Blasio didn’t have any real answer last week when asked what he’d do if crime rose on his watch, just: “We must restore the relationship between the police and community.”

On Friday, he gave a sort-of answer, saying he wants federal oversight to be “temporary.”

Sorry: Federal control isn’t like getting arrested for the cameras at a hospital protest — a few hours in custody and you’re out. A Mayor de Blasio is likely to find federal bosses to be an expensive nuisance who outwear their welcome.

That’s what happened in New Orleans. Taking office there 3½ years ago, Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked President Obama’s Justice Department to oversee the NOPD under a structure similar to what New York’s getting.

Landrieu’s reasoning was that the NOPD needed reform — true enough, and more than anyone claims the NYPD needs. He also figured that relations between the police and people in crime-ridden neighborhoods were so bad that people wouldn’t trust reforms that came from the mayor — never mind that they’d just elected him.

The feds took Landrieu up on his offer to find areas for “systemic and transformational change.” They spent a year working on a 158-page report, then another year working on a 492-page version.

Many ideas were sensible: Kill the practice of letting businesses pay off-duty cops for private details in their districts, which invited corruption. Some were obvious: “Promote” the “ethical officers.”

But the mayor could have done it all himself. The feds should have stuck to what was their job — prosecuting past wrongdoing, including allegations of egregious brutality and killings after Katrina — and let the new mayor run a new police department.

Instead, the feds wrote their reports — and New Orleans’s already sky-high murder rate kept rising. In 2010, when Landrieu took office mid-year, the number of murders was 175. In 2011, it was 199 — and in 2012, 193. (For New York, a much larger city, the Big Easy’s 2012 rate would translate to 4,246 murders.)

So Landrieu changed his mind: Early this year, he asked the federal judge to vacate the order.

No dice: The NOPD is stuck with its $10-million-a-year babysitter. The city didn’t even get the federal monitoring panel it preferred, out of two choices.

In the wake of a high-profile joint NOPD-federal raid this spring, the New Orleans murder rate is down this year; there’s even hope it will stay down. But the federal monitors don’t deserve the credit.

In August, Landrieu complained that by choosing the more expensive contract, the feds were forcing “the taxpayers of New Orleans [to pay] the high cost of Washington, DC, lawyers billing up to $481 an hour, plus their travel expenses. . . Every dollar we pay a high-priced monitor is a dollar we cannot spend on more police.”

It’s not hard to see de Blasio making similar complaints in a few years. Let’s hope it doesn’t take him that long to figure out that the first job of the mayor is to prevent murders.

Say this for de Blasio’s opponent, Joe Lhota: He knows now that a good mayor never gives up control of one of his core jobs to an unaccountable federal authority.

Original Source: http://nypost.com/2013/09/23/its-not-so-easy-to-invite-the-feds-out/

 

 
 
 

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