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Brooklyn Borough President and former NYPD captain Eric Adams daringly ran on a law-and-order mayoral platform, earning the Democratic nod in a field populated with progressives bent on defunding the police. Once he clinches City Hall, he needs to deliver on his promise of safety — and that means listening to law enforcers.
Adams acknowledges what some so stubbornly resist: Demonizing cops and hamstringing their public-safety efforts allow criminality to flourish. Shootings and homicides are on the rise in cities across the nation. Recruitment and retention of officers have become difficult for departments already forced to deal with budgets slashed by the #Defund movement.
The NYPD is experiencing painful staffing shortfalls, as cops are retiring in droves. The Post reported in April that “more than 5,300 NYPD uniformed officers retired or put in their papers to leave in 2020 — a 75 percent spike from the year before.” A wider exodus would break the department.
If Adams wants to make good on his campaign promises and emerge as the historic leader who staved off a return of the city’s bad old days, he needs to take the following steps:
1) Begin by publicly defending the honorable policing profession. Sane people understand this to mean support for good cops and holding accountable the minuscule share of officers who tarnish the badge. The mayor should use the bully pulpit City Hall affords to call out the current trends of harassment, taunting, baiting and targeting police, often used to create viral video clips by nauseating clout-chasers. Adams might also share his personal experience of being part of the miraculous, NYPD-led effort of the 1990s that once allowed Gotham to stake its claim as nation’s “safest big city.”
2) Untie cops’ hands. Under the guise of criminal-justice reform, activists have pressured weak-kneed politicians into implementing unreasonable restrictions that make an already dangerous profession even more dangerous.
Violent confrontations are sometimes inevitable when cops confront desperate, non-compliant subjects. But when police are prohibited from employing certain control holds or restraining techniques, the balance is dangerously tilted against them — and, therefore, against public safety.
3) Challenge the state Legislature on its dangerous bail and discovery “reforms.” New York will become safer when judges are once more afforded discretion to jail violent, recidivist offenders pending trial.
New York state’s discovery “reforms,” meanwhile, are downright insane. Publicizing information related to witnesses, informants and undercover officers, while disposing of the anonymity related to grand-jury witness protections, is dangerous. It is having a crippling effect on the criminal-justice system.
4) Fund the police. Even leftist city councils like the ones in Minneapolis and Seattle have been forced to reverse course after pledging to dismantle their police budgets. #DefundPolice is a slogan, not a solution, and it’s a slogan even lefties are now running away from.
Mayor de Blasio is learning that painful lesson now and has begun to walk back support for police budget cuts. The irony is lost on no one when local defund advocates implement cuts and then are shamefully forced to appeal for state and federal assistance to combat the crime surge.
America’s safest big city needs a well-funded police force.
Thus far, New York City’s mayor-in-waiting has struck all the right chords with his pro-cop and anti-crime campaign. If, as expected, he moves into Gracie Mansion following inauguration on Jan. 1, will Eric Adams make good on his commitment to public safety? Politics often requires delicate needle-threading: to seek compromises and balance competing equities. Yet, the restoration of law and order in NYC — for residents, commuters and tourists alike — must be the new mayor’s priority No. 1.
James A. Gagliano is a retired FBI supervisory special agent. Jason C. Johnson, a former deputy commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.
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