BY TONY BOUZA
One of the many flaws I’ve nurtured over what seems to have evolved into an interminable stay on the planet is a serious predilection for criticism. I’m always going on about this idiot or that fool. Surely I can’t be infallible on the issues. And I am frequently, if at all, thought to be an acerbic critic of cops rather than a loving one.
So today I thought I’d assess a few genuine positives – (I once traveled to Manhattan to hear the Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale hold forth on “The Power of Positive Thinking,” the Harvey Mackay of his time). I was singularly unmoved and carried on with my merry carping about supernumerated superannuateds. That seemed a lot more fun.
Then I looked back on my career.
Wherever I went I was a change agent – really only because changes were clearly and desperately needed.
So what was the reaction?
The cops made everything work.
They bitch and moan incessantly, but the reality is they love what they do. They never quit. A resignation was such a rare event that I can’t think of any. So, how come you think a lot quit?
That is the myth of the exodus.
Yes, they retire at varying rates – but into lucrative pensions and labeling their exits quitting. This is their traditional approach to urinating all over the public and telling them it’s raining.
Stop staring at the clouds.
So, whence the obvious problems?
First – the thumpers. Rarely more than 2 to 3% of the force, they lead the pack. It is a very complicated and counter-intuitive idea that the Derek Chauvins (of George Floyd infamy) are the leaders in the ranks who set the tone and call the tune. In fact, if you wanted to identify the thumpers, all you’d have to do is line all the cops up in uniform. The thumpers would be the cops with chests full of medals.
In the Floyd video you’re not just watching Chauvin choke his victim, but three of his colleagues and putative equals standing obsequiously by, taking their cue from his leadership. Classic cowed indifference.
Wherever I went (three agencies) there were tough measures to adopt. Can you believe name tags sparked visceral resistance? One-person patrols meant painful divorces. Precinct consolidation undermined clubbiness. Frozen promotions don’t need explaining. Minority and female recruitment impinged on nurtured prejudices. Sharp reductions in overtime pay were, understandably, resented. Decoy units and similarly aggressive tactics bred opposition. So, everywhere, there was sturm and drang. The union fed the disaffection.
And the result?
Without exception, the vast majority of cops gritted their teeth and made the changes work.
And that’s why I love cops.