Law & the Courts

The Inconvenient Truth about the NYPD that De Blasio Won’t Admit

New York City police officer Brian Moore will be laid to rest today in Bethpage, Long Island. The 25-year-old member of the NYPD’s anti-crime unit was shot in the face on Saturday night as he and his partner patrolled a Queens street. Moore succumbed to his injuries on Monday, becoming the third officer murdered in the line of duty since December. He had been a cop for five years, following his father, uncle, and cousin in the NYPD.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to speak at the funeral. Hizzoner will surely have nothing but praise for Moore and his family. Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday, de Blasio called Moore “someone we should all emulate.” It was an uncharacteristically gracious thing for the mayor to say about a cop. We’re more used to hearing about de Blasio’s “fundamental belief” that kids like his biracial son Dante are targeted by the NYPD because of the color of their skin. Those kinds of remarks got the mayor in hot water last year. Since the December murders of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, however, de Blasio has looked for ways to praise cops while preserving his protest-movement bona fides.

That impulse was on display Wednesday. After lauding Moore as a hero for his dedication and sacrifice, de Blasio decided to make a larger point about the frayed relationship between police and “the community.” “We’ve lost a lot of other young men recently, particularly young men of color who were innocent, who were unarmed,” he added. In other words — let’s keep Brian Moore’s murder in context. Let’s not forget that cops are killers, too.

But if his point is that cops are preying on young black men, then Mayor de Blasio couldn’t be more wrong. As my City Journal colleague Heather Mac Donald has pointed out, the over-6,000 black homicide victims in America every year are overwhelmingly killed not by cops, but by other blacks. And in New York, the number of annual cop-involved killings can be counted on two hands. In 2013, the last year for which data are available, there were just eight people killed in such incidents, all of whom had prior arrest histories and were armed with guns or “cutting instruments” when they were shot.

So much for “innocent” and “unarmed.”

In 1971, by contrast, 91 people were shot and killed by cops in New York City. The fact is: The NYPD doesn’t kill that many people, white or black. Not anymore, anyway.

Even the de Blasio–allied New York Times doesn’t dispute this inconvenient truth. The Grey Lady acknowledged recently that what seems like an uptick in police killings could merely be a function of pervasive social media — cell-phone videos and Twitter postings.

The fact is: The NYPD doesn’t kill that many people, white or black.

Nevertheless, the mayor seems quite committed to the narrative he’s constructed that the cops are to blame for tensions with “the community.” Last week, de Blasio held a testy press conference in which he lamented what he called “the missing men in our neighborhoods” that had been “lost to prison.”

“How can we have a healthy society when so many of our young men aren’t here?” he asked.

The way he said it almost made it seem as if some percentage of the city’s jail population had simply wandered into their cells by accident. I, for one, would like to know: How many people does the mayor think the NYPD wrongfully imprisons every year?

As with de Blasio’s implication about young men of color being targeted for killing by cops, the statistics don’t support his mass assertions about mass incarceration. According to a new report from his own NYPD commissioner, William Bratton, New York’s prison and jail populations have plummeted since the advent of “broken windows” policing in the early 1990s.

In 1992, there were 21,499 prisoners on Rikers Island. By 2013, there were just 11,827 — a 45 percent drop. And, according to Bratton, from 1990 to 2012, the city sent 69 percent fewer people to state prisons.

So much for all the missing men.

It’s well and good that Bill de Blasio says we should emulate Brian Moore. The mayor of New York City should have nothing but praise for the men and women of the NYPD who, through their courage and dedication, have transformed the Big Apple from a notorious murder capital into the safest big city in America.

But it sure would be nice if he said such things before they are murdered in the line of duty.


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