BY TONY BOUZA
A bromide—a crisis can be an opportunity. Can we even see the possibilities behind such inane assertions? The deafening effects of samplers result in comas.
I am driven to the NYPD by its size, prominence, utility as a universal example and my own tortured and loving relationship to it.
In 1975, NYC faced a fearful fiscal crisis—brought by indifference, mismanagement and the bad luck of timing, in the form of soaring crime and arsons. The Bronx, my assignment, really was in flames.
I was frantic with fear and pleaded with Police Commissioner Michael J. Codd to adopt reforms. He brusquely chastised me for the effrontery. I made a speech before the City Club denouncing management—which appeared on page one of The New York Times. Codd forced me out very soon thereafter.
But all that is self-pitying and self-justifying drivel.
The real, central point—and tragedy—of it all is that Codd, faced with a fiscal abyss, dismissed many thousands of young cops. The freshest, newest, most energetic and enthusiastic in our ranks.
The god of seniority was paid his obeisance by a very religious acolyte.
NYC was ultimately saved by the knowing ministrations of Felix Rohatyn, a fiscal wizard.
And, just as Santayana predicted, here we go again, folks.
NYC—and Minneapolis—are about to piss away any hope for the reforms and economies that would revitalize police agencies. Salaries will rise, the work week will be shortened, and the thumpers will thrive.
Bloated supervisory ranks will remain distended grotesqueries. Efficiency and productivity—not to mention accountability—will be resisted, ignored and abandoned. Featherbedding will flourish. The union will rule. Thumpers will be protected and allowed to set the tone—in NYC, Minneapolis and everywhere else.
Cops can be—and mostly are—dedicated, heroic and effective. But, just like everyone else (me and you not excepted), they are happy to wallow in tubs of butter.
This is not a Minneapolis or Big Apple problem—this is an American problem.
Capitalism knows the answers—fire the unfit and unwilling. Pare the agency of waste and fat. Insist on production. Adopt economies and efficiencies. Tough stuff, but capitalism—yes, capitalism—is the answer, even as we acknowledge that socialism is kinder, gentler, more beautiful and, certainly, cuddlier.
The pandemic has provided a matchless chance for reforms. Join City Hall in wasting it.