The Law N Order lobby is in high spin gear in an effort to counter the political impact of the continuing protest over police violence. Apparently they will settle for nothing less than irrevocable placement on a pedestal of reverential respect.
As the nation continues to grapple with the thorny issues of race and policing, some officers have been bruised by comments made by some local and national officials and have accused them of showing more support for the protesters, some of whom have violently clashed with police, than for their police departments. Law enforcement officials say morale is flagging among the rank-and-file, who they say feel “betrayed” by President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in their calls for tough reforms of policing tactics.
“We might be reaching a tipping point with the mind-set of officers, who are beginning to wonder if the risks they take to keep communities safe are even worth it anymore,” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said. “In New York and other places, we’re seeing a natural recoil from law enforcement officers who don’t feel like certain people who need to have their backs have their backs.”
This strikes me as the kind of political blackmail that police unions have long used wring benefits and legal concessions out of the electorate. The DOJ under Eric Holder has tread a fairly moderate path in its dealings with local law enforcement agencies. They have conducted investigations of agencies and individuals. They have negotiated some compliance agreements with agencies and initiated federal prosecutions of a fairly small number of individuals. It seems like a reasonable assessment to say that the department has been somewhat more assertive in this area than in was during the Bush administration, but not dramatically so. In terms of the high profile cases such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner they have opened federal civil rights investigations but so far have made no move to initiate prosecution. Clearly this is not good enough for the boys in blue. They crave unlimited praise. So what are they going to do if they don't get it?
Let's take a look at salary and benefits for the NYPD.
After 5.5 years on the force line police officers are getting a salary of $90K, not including overtime. That is pretty clearly a middle class in come. However, it gets better when you look at the benefits.
10 Paid vacation days during first & second year
13 Paid vacation days during third, fourth & fifth year
27 Paid vacation days after 5 years of service
Unlimited sick leave with full pay
A choice of paid medical programs
Prescription, dental, and eyeglass coverage
Deferred Compensation Plan, 401K and I.R.A.
Optional retirement at one half salary after 22 years of service
Annual $12,000 Variable Supplement Fund (upon retirement)
Annual banking of $12,000 Variable Supplement Fund after 22 years of service (if not retiring)
Excellent promotional opportunities
Additional benefits are available to military personnel.
Who else gets unlimited sick leave with full pay and the ability to retire after 22 years on the job?
In the context of this information we raise the question of why do people become police officers. Is it out of a burning desire to protect and to serve? I submit that for many of them this is about the best job that they can get. Are they going to walk out on it because Obama and De Blasio are having photo ops with Al Sharpton? I'd say that is highly unlikely.
The racial disparities in Ferguson between the community and the police force are more extreme than the average but they are by no means unique. City administrations all over the country have struggled to increase racial diversity in predominantly white police forces. There are numerous federal law suits alleging bias in entrance and promotional exams all over the country that have drug on for years.
In another article The Washington Post does an analysis of the claims about how many officers have been murdered in the line of duty. The people making claims about the extreme danger faced by police officers are inclined to use the total number of police who have died on the job as supplied by the FBI. This produces an average of 114 per year over the past several years. However, when that report is unpacked that figure is a combination of accidental causes such as being run over while directing traffic and what are termed felonious incidents.
But the actual number of non-accidental deaths, which would fit Bratton’s description of “anger and the hatred and the violence,” has not topped 100 since the 1980s. The lowest number of felonious deaths during that same time period was 27 deaths in 2013, and the highest was 72 in 2011. Non-accidental deaths ranged from 38 to 58 percent of total officer fatalities in a given year.
In general, law enforcement fatalities have been declining since the 1970s. Some factors that contributed to the decline were increased use of bullet-resistant vests, availability of highly-trained SWAT teams that are used for especially dangerous situations, and use of stun guns that allow officers to keep a distance from perpetrators instead of hand-to-hand combat.
Felonious deaths also have been on a steady decline. Nearly 140 officers died in felonious incidents in 1973. In 2013, there were 27 such deaths, according to the FBI. Ambush attacks, which certainly fit Bratton’s description, accounted for 21.7 percent of felonious deaths from 2004 to 2013:
1. Logging workers
2. Fishers and related fishing workers
3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
5. Structural iron and steel workers
6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
10. Construction laborers
Police are not on it.