Ladies and gentlemen, meet woke Michael Bloomberg. The newly minted, almost-candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination is planning to run in the moderate lane, but that didn’t stop him from reversing course on one of the biggest questions of his political career this week, and in the process, throwing his own legacy and the New York City Police Department under the bus. In an act of shameless pandering, the three-term New York mayor apologized for the policing tactic known as “Stop, Question, and Frisk.”
At a church in Brooklyn, Bloomberg made his farcical mea culpa, saying, “I got something important really wrong. I didn’t understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives — but as we know: good intentions aren’t good enough.”
If you look closely at this statement you can see what makes it nonsensical. He was focused on saving lives, God forbid. In 2002 Michael Bloomberg inherited from Rudy Giuliani the most effective police force to ever exist. When Rudy and his police commissioner William Bratton took over in 1994 there were over 2000 homicides in New York. By the time he left that number was more than cut in half.
Those numbers were the result of a revolution in crime fighting known as proactive policing. Central to this success was CompStat, a computerized system that allowed the NYPD to pinpoint where resources were needed to fight violent crime. In most cases, those resources were needed in black and Latino communities where murder rates were vastly higher than in other neighborhoods.
In 2002, when Bloomberg took over as mayor he brought on Ray Kelly to lead the NYPD. A tough-as-nails beat cop and the first person ever to rise from police cadet to police commissioner, Kelly’s tenure lasted until 2013 when the murder rate was almost cut in half again. His signature policy, which intended to and succeeded in keeping illegal guns off the street, was Stop, Question, and Frisk.
The practice of Stop, Question, and Frisk was rooted in the 1968 Supreme Court decision, Terry v Ohio, which allowed police officers without probable cause to arrest, to frisk a suspect they considered to be dangerous. What Kelly, the beat cop, knew was that police in their districts know where the danger is, and need the tools to protect against it. Under Kelly’s reign the risk of carrying an illegal gun in New York City became enormous, and he for one has no doubt that Stop, Question, and Frisk was essential in saving thousands of lives, most of them black and brown.
Not too long ago Michael Bloomberg agreed with that assessment. He was furious when a federal judge found the practice unconstitutional, notwithstanding Terry v Ohio, and even more irate when Bill de Blasio, who took over as mayor in 2014 refused to appeal the decision. Opponents of the practice argue that crime has continued to decrease since it stopped, although troubling indicators are already emerging.
But this argument fails to take into account the fundamental transformation of neighborhoods that Kelly’s police force undertook. It’s like looking at a drug addict who is five years sober and saying, “see, she’s still sober, rehab had nothing to do with it.” If Bloomberg had simply taken the position that Stop, Question, and Frisk is no longer needed that would be one thing, but to apologize for it is an insult the police force that helped make his reputation as an effective mayor.
This could not come at a worse time. In New York City today, people are jumping turnstiles en masse to protest police keeping the subway system safe. Officers have had buckets of water thrown on them and their vehicles. Every move the NYPD makes occurs under the gaze of 8 million smart phones and still abuse is rare. But that doesn’t keep the professional Left from smearing New York’s finest as a bunch of racist thugs, despite the fact that the NYPD is a leader in expanding diversity.
For Bloomberg to lend his voice to this slander in a cynical and vain attempt to win the White House is shameful. Michael Bloomberg was not the one patrolling the streets of New York City as the crime rate plummeted, much as he likes to take credit for it. He was not in harms way if criminals were carrying illegal guns, the NYPD were.
Bloomberg’s change of heart is not the result of any new information, its pure politics, plain and simple. And it is an insult to a police force that more than anything else, transformed the world’s greatest city and saved thousands of lives in the process.