For the second consecutive week, New York City police have virtually ceased writing tickets and arresting people for many nonviolent crimes, on the order of a 90 percent drop from a year earlier
. After perceived slights by Mayor Bill de Blasio, civil protests against police brutality, and the murder of two officers by a deranged gunman, the New York Police Department is fighting back by not doing its job. Or rather, police appear to be using their resentment as an organizing incentive to skip certain non-essential cop duties.
The police seem to be trying
to teach a lesson to a city they feel doesn't adequately appreciate them.
For New Yorkers who value fair policing, though, the slowdown is an occasion to celebrate
Many of the offenses police have tacitly declared legal are considered quality-of-life (QOL) infractions. Those follow the broken window strategy
, a policing philosophy that has been widely discredited since its heyday in Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty. QOL meets small transgressions with arrests and fines - a way, it's thought, to nip more substantial crimes in the bud. Perhaps because QOL policing grants cops near-unlimited discretion in determining whom to sanction, its penalties fall disproportionately on people of color.
Between 2001 and 2013, the New York Daily News
found, more than 80 percent
of the 7.3 million people penalized for these infractions were black or Latino. The vast majority of African Americans and Latinos
in all walks of life feel like they're treated unfairly by law enforcement, and consider police discrimination the most endemic form of societal mistreatment.It's unfair
, and financially burdensome
, and it often follows such small transgressions as jaywalking, skipping $2.50 subway fares or merely irritating police.
To many of us from these communities, the past two weeks have amounted to a vacation from fear, surveillance and punishment. Maybe this is what it feels like to not be prejudged and seen as suspicious law breakers. Maybe this is a small taste of what it feels like to be white.