On Wednesday, July 24, 2019 NYPD Chief of Department Terrance Monahan was widely quoted saying the following in response to the water bucket attacks on police officers:
“Any cop who thinks that that’s all right — that they can walk away from something like that — maybe should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them,” he said.
“We don’t take that.”
“As it was 30 years ago when you came on this job, being a cop is a tough job,”
“It’s not easy. It wasn’t easy back in 1989, [and] it’s not easy right now.”
It’s easy to say those cops should have made arrests. It’s easy to put out a memo citing the crimes they could have charged. It’s also easy to tell the whole truth about these incidents. However, Chief Monahan left a great deal of truth off the table.
I am certain those cops knew what they could have arrested those miscreants for. I am certain they were not afraid to arrest those punks and I am certain they were not afraid to fight them when they inevitably resisted arrest.
What those cops were afraid of is what would happen if they won the fight. What they were afraid of was the Police Commissioner’s response if one of these water-throwing delinquents was injured while being taken into custody or, God forbid, died shortly after the arrest.
First would come the immediate calls of police brutality and racism. Then, the canonization of the neighborhood youths who were just having some harmless fun interacting with the local cops. They were just playing after all. It was just water! Why did the cops have to overreact? Then, the calls for indictments. And ultimately what would inevitably follow: the leadership of the Department would completely turn its back on the officers involved.
That’s why those officers didn’t fight back or make arrests, make no mistake about it. Failed police leadership.
What Chief Monahan conveniently ignores is that in 1989, regardless of the politics of city hall, we had police leadership. Leadership that backed their cops and gave them the benefit of a doubt and an investigation. Today, we have leaders who, in a rush to please their cop hating master in city hall, run away and disown a cop when times get tough.
What we are all experiencing is what I describe as the Pantaleo Effect.
Daniel Pantaleo was sent by a police executive in the Chief of Department’s Office to address a minor crime – untaxed cigarette enforcement. A revenue stream to the city. What followed was Eric Garner berated the officers and refused to be arrested; when the officers tried to put his hands behind his back, he resisted. Make no mistake, no man should die as a result of minor crimes or cigarette enforcement. However, Eric Garner died as a direct result of his resisting arrest, plain and simple.
In 1989, someone in authority would have said so. They would have explained the facts and, yes, maybe even issued a memo explaining the law, not to the officers in the NYPD but rather to the residents of the City of New York.
Under the de Blasio/O’Neill administration, Officer Pantaleo was abandoned by the Department’s Commissioner and leadership staff even though every police executive in the Department knows that what happened with Daniel Pantaleo could have happened to any one of them.
Then we have the incident with Sergeant Hugh Barry from the 43 Pct., who responded to a violent Emotionally Disturbed Person call and was confronted with a 67 year old woman armed with scissors. Sgt. Barry spoke to her calmly and talked her into putting the scissors down. Suddenly, she changed her mind and tried to hit him in the head with a baseball bat. Sgt. Barry had no choice but to defend himself. This scenario plays out thirty times a day in New York City and to date there has been no significant change in policy, even though the practice remains the same.
In 1989, the leadership of the NYPD would have called for calm and let the investigation unfold. The crowd of sycophants leading the Department today said “WE FAILED” before the investigation even began, all while having knowledge that the 67 year old woman had a long prior history of terrifying her neighbors with erratic and threatening behavior.
Both Pantaleo and Barry involve officers doing their jobs exactly as trained. When the unforeseeable or unexpected happened, the leaders of the Department were literally the first to condemn them.
Hence, the Pantaleo Effect: proud and hard-working police officers will allow themselves to be jeered and humiliated by bucket-throwing deviants rather than risk being the next Daniel Pantaleo or Hugh Barry.
Chief Monahan, this job today is much tougher than it was in 1989, and not because the streets are any more dangerous. It’s tougher because each and every cop on the street is putting their lives, careers and freedom in the hands of failed leadership. Those cops we’ve all seen in videos having buckets of water dumped on them allowed themselves to be debased because they have no confidence that the leadership in this Department will defend them if they rise up and defend themselves.
Maybe it’s time for O’Neill and Monahan to consider another profession.
To the proud members of the NYPD: no more assassinations, hold the line, don’t back down, stay together, protect yourself and your cops, what you do matters. Because the leadership of this Department has failed you, do not fail the millions of people who support you. The nation is watching. Please remain safe at all costs, and know and believe in your hearts that the SBA has and will always stand in front of you.
Make no mistake: we will win.
God bless you and your families.
Sergeants Benevolent Association
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