“A Virtual Work Stoppage” Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 31 2014 @ 4:52pm

Matt Ford focuses on the “benefits of fewer NYPD arrests”:

Fewer arrests for minor crimes logically means fewer people behind bars for minor crimes. Poorer would-be defendants benefit the most; three-quarters of those sitting in New York jails are only there because they can’t afford bail. Fewer New Yorkers will also be sent to Rikers Island, where endemic brutality against inmates has led to resignations, arrests, and an imminent federal civil-rights intervention over the past six months. A brush with the American criminal-justice system can be toxic for someone’s socioeconomic and physical health.

And petty criminals are probably less likely to become career criminals if they can avoid the hardening experience of prison and the stigmas associated with it, especially when it comes to future employers. Allahpundit considers the political risks the NYPD is taking with its “virtual work stoppage“:

[M]aybe the slowdown in arrests is more of a protest, partly against de Blasio for being too sympathetic to “I can’t breathe” protesters and partly to give the public a taste of what life with a force that’s less aggressive in policing minor offenses would be like. That’s a tricky line PR-wise, though.

Now that voters know there’s an informal police boycott of punishing lesser offenses, how much will they blame de Blasio if the quality of life in NYC starts to decline and how much will they blame the force? Or does it matter? The political endgame for police here, I assume, is to have voters so disgusted with the state of the city under de Blasio that they’ll bounce him out of office in 2017 even if they blame the police for the uptick in crime. You can replace the mayor, after all, but you can’t replace the force.

A reader introduces another angle to the story:

I think that reporters covering the current unpleasantness ought to be focusing a bit more on the police contract negotiations. I think the police erroneously believe that throwing a permanent tantrum against the duly elected mayor of the city will somehow result in better negotiating leverage.

If I were the mayor, I would offer the police a contract with a cost of living increase and literally nothing else different than their current agreement. I get the tensions, I get the hurt feelings, but there is something unseemly about asking for a big fat raise after such rampant and unacceptable insubordination like we’ve seen lately. Since the union representatives have all but called for the mayor’s removal over this, why on earth should the mayor reward them for this? They serve the city and its citizens, not the other way around.

Friedersdorf remarks on that union-contract angle:

The right should greet [a planned police rally on January 13] with the skepticism they’d typically summon for a rally on behalf of government workers as they seek higher pay, new work rules, and more generous benefits. What’s unfolding in New York City is, at its core, a public-employee union using overheated rhetoric and emotional appeals to rile public employees into insubordination. The implied threat to the city’s elected leadership and electorate is clear: Cede leverage to the police in the course of negotiating labor agreements or risk an armed, organized army rebelling against civilian control. Such tactics would infuriate the right if deployed by any bureaucracy save law enforcement opposing a left-of-center mayor.