Defund the police! The clarion cry of protesters and middle-class warriors everywhere never fails to stir Cockburn’s passions. Slashing police budgets, cutting resources and further increasing crime rates is the most logical step to improving our societies and neighborhoods. Isn’t it?
But it transpires that calling for the police to be fleeced of their budgets comes easier if you are Maya Wiley, Democratic candidate for New York City mayor, who lives in a $2.7 million brownstone in a Brooklyn precinct where the crime rate has plummeted in the past year. And Wiley’s partner Harlan Mandel, CEO of the non-profit Media Development Investment Fund, has been paying for a guard to patrol their tiny neighborhood.
While Cockburn understands how you might be lulled into believing NYC to be a utopian paradise from the affluence of Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct, should Wiley look across the tracks to the adjacent 67th precinct, she might be shocked to learn that the past year has seen a 45 percent increase in car thefts, an 18.2 percent increase in rapes and a 9 percent increase in felony assaults, according to NYPD stats. It is doubtful that many residents of the 67th can afford to pay yearly subscriptions, like Wiley and Mandel do, for a private guard from the Prospect Park South Charitable Trust.
Cockburn pondered this paradox while watching the lively debate between Wiley and her rival for mayor, ex-NYPD chief Eric Adams on Sunday, in which Wiley vowed to defund the NYPD by a cool $1 billion should she ever make it to City Hall. Despite Adams’s voice of experience explaining how in terms of practical outcomes, his opponent’s plan is something of a floater, Wiley argued that the reallocation of funds towards schools and programs for minority groups would benefit the safety of the community at large. After all, as she pointed out, in the 20 years she’s lived in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park South, she’s only been aware of one mugging on the block.
So, let’s defund the police! Wiley, warming to her theme, gave us another example of the utterly egregious behavior of Manhattan’s carabinieri, just last Saturday. Called in to enforce a 10 p.m. COVID curfew in Washington Square Park, the cops made 22 arrests. Boo! The fact that most of the detained were in varying states of vivid disrepair and disorderliness seemed to matter less to Wiley than the fact that the police crashed the party armed with bikes, batons and decidedly fun-free attitudes. In decrying the police’s actions Wiley called instead for something called ‘smart policing’. God help us, not another government app, surely?
Cockburn finds himself lost for words at Wiley’s sheer hypocrisy. Jumping on the pea-brained sloganeering so beloved of earnest campaigners and social justice warriors might seem a guaranteed vote-magnet to her campaign. Certainly, Defund the Police! is more exciting than the humdrum reality of running a sprawling city and the dull old pragmatism, common sense, law and order that it requires. Yet to what extent would the most fervent BLM placard-waving protester feel able to endorse a candidate who so flagrantly advocates lessening police while she and her family are safe and protected?
Wiley’s stance has predictably won her few friends in the NYPD. ‘Asinine’ was the reaction one source gave the New York Post: ‘Here they are wanting to defund the police — but to keep my family safe, we hire private security, which is probably staffed by retired cops or military. Cops laugh about it all the time. Cops know when they retire, they will get hired by someone like Wiley.’
Cockburn wistfully fantasizes about a New York under Mayor Wiley — a utopia where gender-neutral children run free in the streets playing non-competitive games, retired policepersons beam benevolently from deckchairs on stoops and street muggers, car thieves and rapists high-five as they help old ladies across the road. Could it really all be within reach, if we could only defund the police? As long as we quietly keep our private security guards (those of us who can afford them, of course), why on earth not?
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