In a letter to New York press, NYPD union president Patrick Lynch explained that because reporters had not been police officers, they “are not qualified” to judge the actions of police officers. We give Lynch credit for trying hard to sound like he has a point, but of course, he doesn’t.
“If you have never struggled with someone who is resisting arrest or who pulled a gun on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good,” wrote Lynch.
He added that it was “mystifying” that reporters can “come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong based upon nothing but a silent video.”
Lynch was talking about the James Blake situation (Blake was tackled and handcuffed because an officer thought he was a suspect), but that doesn’t matter. What’s important to note here is that Lynch is ignoring a simple way for the “knee-jerk reaction from ivory tower pundits” to stop forever: Get cops to stop abusing their power.
If the NYPD stops firing 50 bullets into three black men—killing one on the morning of his wedding day—under unclear circumstances, then there’s nothing to report. If the NYPD no longer chokes a black man to death for selling cigarettes, then there’s nothing to report. If the NYPD stops putting seven-month pregnant black women in chokeholds (which are banned under NYPD’s own regulations), then there’s nothing to report. If the NYPD stops editing Wikipedia accounts of police abuse, then there’s nothing to report.
Journalists covering the NYPD’s actions is not a problem. The unchecked power of police officers is. But perhaps Lynch is just not qualified to address that.
(Image: Kirsten Luce/The New York Times)