A new Quinnipiac University poll finds a curious attitudes among New Yorkers. In a twist on the old joke, city residents complain that the New York Police Department (NYPD) is terrible—and such small portions!
In the poll, conducted June 5-9, Quinnipiac found that the NYPD's approval rating was at 59 percent, down from 68 percent in March. (Perhaps the spree of NYPD cops getting drunk and shooting at people in April and May had something to do with the decline.) Yet three-quarters of those surveyed support a city council proposal to hire 1,000 additional officers.
Additionally, 59 percent of respondents said the NYPD should resume patrols of public housing hallways in which anyone they encounter must show ID.
"We can't ignore the likely impact of the highly-publicized murder of a child in a housing project elevator," said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll. "At least in this emotional time, the civil liberties spokespeople are out of touch with the people they speak for."
Thank goodness they are.
As we all know, tragic events tend to produce feelings that we should Do! Something! For many, the best thing to do is always anything, because doing anything—no matter what, even if it doesn't work—demonstrates that we are Good People Who Care.
Good People Who Care obviously support more cops in public housing, because a) the vast majority of them probably don't live in public housing themselves, and b) even if the NYPD is terrible, what's the harm? If there's even a small chance that sending in more cops and curtailing civil liberties can prevent another child murder, we obviously should.
But these people don't think about the unintended effects that essentially militarizing public housing can have—starting with what living in a police state does to a community's morale and attitudes (not breed goodwill, that's for certain). And increasing police presence in public housing won't just lead to the catching of more violent or serious criminals (if it ever does). More police presence means more arrests for administrative transgressions, such as unpaid court fees or failure to meet a probationary curfew, and minor drug possession.
There's also the fact that when you militarize a place under the express idea that it is a hotbed of crime that requires action, people tend to wind up dead—at the hands of the cops.
But, oh!, look at me being a silly libertarian thinking about silly things like unintended consequences and people's rights. In these emotional times…