The Other Side of Law Enforcement
Written by: Yolanda Kinlock October 11, 2019
There is good and bad in every group of people, and financial, city, state and government sectors, we can’t judge one for all. At least that is what some people tend to preach. So why does the media sometimes focus more on the bad within the NYPD than the good? Is it because, society as a whole sometimes tends to place law enforcement officers at a much higher standard than the general population? Or is it because some people may believe law enforcement officers are not allowed to act on their own emotions when they are in a vulnerable situation, or are victims themselves. Imagine you are police officer and someone spat in your face, or physical attacked you in a life threatening situation without a just cause. It is easy to say as a law enforcement officer and as part of my duty I would do my best to subdue the perpetrator and make the necessary arrest. But what if the perpetrator is high on an illegal substance, or has a gun pointed in your face or at her head, would a quick and rational decision be that easy. I would imagine it wouldn’t be.
The minute a law enforcement officer puts on their uniform and goes out on patrol their life is at risk. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported in the new 2019 Mid-Year report through June 30, 2019 “There were sixty law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.” This report more than likely does not included all the under-cover police officers who had died in the line of duty as well; mainly to protect their identities and the safety of their families. It is a rude awaking, but one that needs to be noted.
Although, many law enforcement officers had been laid to rest honorably in trying to keep the citizens safe. For most police officers it is a mental and emotional vocation for them to protect and serve others. But times have changed in how law enforcement officers are perceived. Some people simply do not respect the officers in the same way they did years ago. They want to challenge and disrespect the police officers. Possibly because of the fact that police integrity has been lost due to some officers’ discourtesy and some of them engaging in misconduct , and the same criminal activities as the criminals they arrest. And unfortunately, their actions have made it bad for every good law enforcement officer who works hard to keep the city safe. Yes, I did say that. There is evidence of it. Some officers may take comfort in operating on the wrong side of the law while the majority of officers take comfort in operating on the right side of the law. The reported arrest statistics speaks for itself in regard to the fact that there are some corrupt law enforcement officers. With that said I cannot and will not pretend that police misconduct does not exist. I am only making the statement that every law enforcement officer should not be labeled, scrutinized and condemned for those individuals who choose to make bad decisions.
The media indicates and focuses heavily on corruption and criminal activities within the NYPD from top rank to police officers. There are several incidents that come to my mind such theft, bribery, domestic violence among police officers, driving while intoxicated, assault, etc. And the Eric Garner case did not shed any good light on the NYPD either. But I will discuss two incidents. I recall the news of the police sergeant who stole designer clothing from Macy’s. Her face was all over the media from her mug shot to her various poses on social media. I remember conversing with someone about the incident and wondered what would possess her to do something so asinine knowing that there is a negative imagine already imposed on the NYPD. Maybe she has some psychological issues that we are not aware of someone said, but the reality is no one cares. She should have known better most of us would say.
There is also the incident with the five high-ranking officers who were accused of bribes-for-favors in connection with the current Mayor’s donors, but they were never charged. Even their awarded settlement reached the media when they sued the city for allegedly forcing them out during the federal investigation. It was reported that “The department’s motive was depicted as a concern about negative publicity.” This is how bad it has gotten for the NYPD. Any unfavorable behavior concerning a uniform member of service or a civilian member of service reflects negatively on the entire NYPD. The “You can’t judge one for all” phrase goes out the door when it comes to the police department. Is that fair to all the uniform members of service especially those who takes their profession and responsibilities seriously to protect lives and property through the enforcement of laws and regulations? I ask that question because it seems the media favors reporting the bad over the good in regard to police activities. But we cannot overlook the obvious there are more good law enforcement officers than bad law enforcement officers. Most of them are in it for the right reasons. They want to do well; and protect the lives of others within reason of the law. Most of them feel good when they help someone, for some officers it is in their nature. Most police officers feel sympathy when they have to arrest someone for a senseless act, and proud when they save someone’s life.
I am not saying the media does not report the good that law enforcement officers do, I am frankly saying the media focuses more on the bad than the good. If you have heard of the phrase “It doesn’t matter how much good you do, if you do one bad thing it overshadows the good.” Well that is the NYPD. Obviously they have done more than one bad thing, but the point is in between the line.
Before someone judges an entire organization based on mistakes of others within their unit, the individual should take into account the positive that has been done. For instance, “The NYPD offers a number of community-related programs which informs community members and local businesses about the crime trends and threats, and works with them on preventive measures and security. In addition, the NYPD offers various youth related programs which focus on the challenges of youth New Yorkers and their well-being. The programs collaboratively work with various department commands and other agencies to prevent and reduce youth crime and victimization.”
The total Seven Major Felony Offenses which consists of Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter, Rape, Robbery, Felony Assault, Burglary, Grand Larceny, and Grand Larceny of Motor Vehicles reached a total figure of 111,335 in 2013 and decreased in total figure of 95,883 in 2018.
In addition, many police officers have brought food and clothing for the homeless with their own money, and helped to bring them into shelters for the homeless. A cancer patient recently posted on social media “Its treatment day and we couldn’t get through anywhere from all the UN traffic.” She further stated in her post her mother and her got out of the car and asked a group of cops the best way to get by car to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. And two cops immediately asked them where their car was. The police officers informed them to get back in their car and they would personally guide them through so they could bypass traffic. The officers made good on their promise and encouraged her to keep up the good fight with a high five to follow. If she did not post her incident on social media more than likely only a few people would know, and the police officers act of kindness would not have been known to the media.
I believe in order for a person to truly have an idea and grasp the true hazard that law enforcement officers face coupled with the joy that comes along with their job, the individual would have to speak directly to the people who put their lives on the line every day. Also educating one-self about the field; and observing the law enforcement officers in action is a good way to get a better understanding of what they encounter each day. With that said, I decided to interview a detective who is currently working with the NYPD. Her demeanor was very pleasant and out-going. From interviewing her I got the impression she had been on the job for a number of years. We discussed the dangers of the job, and what makes it worth doing. I was intrigued to say the least.
In our conversation the female detective noted that during her assignment with UNGA (The United Nations General Assembly) which transpires every year. She noticed a homeless woman sleeping in between the doorway of Pronovias in front of the Four Seasons Hotel. She mentioned that she saw the homeless woman a few times in a row during her assignment and she wanted to help her. Based on our conversation I gathered the homeless woman seemed a little disturbed but yet coherent. While the detective was having her lunch she saw the homeless woman with a Starbucks coffee cup in her hand and wondered where she had gotten the money to purchase it. The detective felt compassion for her when she observed the homeless woman in filthy clothing and obviously hungry. “I offered her a hot dog, French fries, a can of Coca Cola soda with napkins, and a cup of ketchup,” the detective said. The more we discussed the incident I could see empathy in her eyes. However, the detective did say when she offered the homeless woman her food she originally rejected it, and she had to persuade her to accept it. By the time the detective turned away and proceeded back to the vehicle, she noticed the homeless woman dipping the fries into the ketchup, and a quarter of the hot dog was eaten by the homeless woman.
I asked the detective how that incident made her feel when the homeless woman rejected her food. The detective responded, “I felt a bit shocked, and gathered that maybe the homeless woman was not use to someone offering her food, and maybe there was a lack of trust. It was probably not the norm for her.” I did pause for a brief moment before I addressed another question, “Would you do it again,” I asked her. The detective’s eyes had brightened as she smiled. “Oh yeah, of course, I’ve done it before,” she responded. I have read about the good work law enforcement has done with various communities and their compassion for the homeless. But actually, having the opportunity to listen and observe the emotion was a pleasant feeling.
We conserved further and the detective recalled a day when her partner and her were on duty. She observed him walking into Dunkin Donuts with a homeless man who had shone he saw hard times. She walked in as well. “You can get whatever you want,” her partner said. The detective conveyed she stood still for a while when she heard the homeless man say to the cashier, “Just one blueberry donut, thank you.” He could have ordered a lot but he just asked for one thing, it kind of baffled the both of us, she said. But towards the end of the interview, I thought I would get in just one more question. “Oh just one more question I said as I pointed my pen in the air. And then, I noticed a warm smile on her face and I proceeded with my question. “How often do most police officers come across those situations?” She was firm and humble as she answered my inquiry. “Probably every day, there are so many opportunities for officers to make someone’s day a little brighter with literally one dollar. We genuinely do it because we want to do it. We are not looking for praise, it is coming from our hearts” the detective said. I was impressed. When I went home I thought about the interview, it was a good feeling to receive such positive and genuine reception.
I was honored the detective took the time to speak with me, and it made me think about what occurred the other day. I was shopping on Thirty Fourth Street in Manhattan and I observed several police officers by Herald Square. There were tourists as well standing by and smiling at the police officers as if they were in awe with them. The tourists asked to take pictures of the police officers, and also to take pictures with them. The tourists seemed proud they were standing so close to the officers. But to be honest I don’t think many New Yorkers would re-act the same. It always baffles me when I hear some people say they do not like law enforcement officers, but when there is a life threatening situation they call nine-one-one to request police assistance.
In order for law enforcement officers to continue to do their jobs effectively they need the continued support of the people who the majority of them are fighting so hard to protect. If we are going to look at the bad and judge, then we should look at the good with an open mind before we cast judgement.