NYPD

A New Law Would Criminalize Throwing Water on NYPD Officers

It's not politicians' fault that citizens don't respect them.

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You'd think New York Police Department officers were being tied up and forced to walk the plank the way lawmakers and police union representatives are talking about a handful of incidents in which troublemakers drenched officers with buckets of water.

It's been a hot summer in New York City, and residents are looking for ways to cool off. According to news reports, some NYPD responding to unruly gatherings around open fire hydrants were aggressively mocked and then drenched with water.

Union officials are reacting as though these folks came out swinging with baseball bats. The typically hyperventilating response from the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association shrieked that "NYPD cops are in DANGER!" and insists that police are going to get killed as a result of this behavior.

Today, blaming lackluster Mayor Bill De Blasio and "radical leftwing politicians" for a culture of disrespect toward the NYPD, State Assemblyman Mike LePetri (R–Long Island) held a press conference announcing proposed legislation to make it a Class E felony to drench officers with water or any other substance. A conviction could result in a jail sentence of one to four years in prison:

"This time it's water, but what's next? Gasoline? Acid?" LePetri opines. He accuses his Democratic political opponents of creating an "us versus them mentality" between citizens and politicians.

The problem with that argument is that far too many police officers approach their job with an "us vs. them" mentality because their training encourages them to treat every encounter with citizens as potentially life-threatening. This "warrior cop" mentality has led to increased police militarization and made officers fearful of the people they're supposed to protect.

LePetri is encouraging this mentality. Does he think that people are playing around in the street with buckets of acid or having gasoline fights? If "disrespect" toward police is violence, does police disrespect toward the people they're supposed to protect also amount to violence? There are consequences to treating police officers as more fragile than regular people and simultaneously letting them off the hook for bad policing.

What's more, LePetri's bill is largely unnecessary. There have been four arrests of men who were involved in the drenching and charges of harassment, disorderly conduct, and criminal mischief. One man who drenched a couple of officers was ordered held on a $3,500 bail. It's already a crime to throw something genuinely dangerous on a police officer. We don't need a new law to address this program.

To be clear, I'm not trying to downplay the potential for some of these incidents to have turned violent. But saying "Some people threw water at the police and we need to put those people in prison" ignores the mood of the scene. When things did get heated, and one man threw a bucket at an officer making an arrest, the officer exercised an admirable amount of restraint. Not further overreacting probably saved lives.

What LePetri is proposing does not actually help create a better relationship between NYPD officers and the community. It instead fosters an idea among officers that "disrespect" is the equivalent of a threat, and should be met with an arrest and possibly violence. That will only further tatter an already frayed relationship between the NYPD and the New Yorkers they police.

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  1. “”This time it’s water, but what’s next? Gasoline? Acid?” LePetri opines.”

    Sounds like this guy is inciting riot. Hook him and book him.

  2. Hmm. I would have thought that throwing a bucket of water on someone could be considered assault under existing law.

    1. ^this.

    2. It is. However, you can’t grandstand as a politician if you accept the status quo.

    3. I’m sure it can be, but that didn’t fit The Narrative.

      That would have made clear that what the mob did was *illegal* if done to anyone, making it the cop’s *duty* to arrest the criminals involved.

      “But saying “Some people threw water at the police and we need to put those people in prison” ignores the mood of the scene. When things did get heated, and one man threw a bucket at an officer making an arrest, the officer exercised an admirable amount of restraint. Not further overreacting probably saved lives.”

      “The mood at the scene”. Assault is ok, if you think it’s fun. Like bashing the fash.

      And you’re mistaken on “saving lives”. Mobs push lines for all they can get away with. That’s the joy of the mob. Getting away with things you couldn’t otherwise on your own.

      They assaulted an officer while he was making an arrest. With all the media coverage, and the *approving* media coverage from nitwits like you, mobs will be emboldened to further assault officers while they make arrests, which probably will get people killed.

      If they had arrested these guys, people would have gotten the *proper* message that you shouldn’t be assaulting cops, and certainly not when they’re making an arrest.

      We should discourage mobs from assaulting *anyone*. Assaulting officers while making arrests escalates an already inherently dangerous situation, as all Reason readers should be aware.

      1. I don’t know what the scene was like. If it was people fucking around with water on a hot day, the cop showing restraint and a sense of humor is certainly desirable. If it’s people throwing water on unsuspecting strangers, that’s a different matter.

        1. In the video I saw it didn’t look like the cops were part of the fun, but the objects of the fun.

    4. Technically, it’s battery. So does that mean that if someone did throw some form of acid, it would automatically be “battery acid”?

      1. A lot of states just call it all “assault”.

        Nice pun, though.

        1. Some people call it rain.

    5. What if you throw a bucket of water at a cop when the water is below 32F?

      1. You’re a hero?

      2. Ahhh, the fabled ice bullet… if only.

    6. Honestly, how could anyone ever think that.

      The pussification of the police continues apace.

      Add “water” to the ever lengthening list of things that scare cops.

      1. Ahhh! You cursed brat!
        Look what you’ve done!
        I’m melting! I’m melting!
        What a world! What a world!

      2. Been done. Remember that DC cop that went apeshit for getting in the middle of a snowball fight?

    7. As a thought experiment, imagine the rationalizations of retaliatory violence coming from those same voices condoning, applauding, or just snickering at the water-bombing of cops, if the perpetrators seen on the video were themselves similarly doused by, well, anyone. Even just a cup of water thrown in their face.

  3. Hot damn summer in the city, cops are getting wet and pissy.

  4. If “disrespect” toward police is violence, does police disrespect toward the people they’re supposed to protect also amount to violence?

    Considering the official nothing that results when actual violence is tossed casually in the direction of the people they’re supposed to protect…

  5. “”This time it’s water, but what’s next? Gasoline? Acid?” LePetri opines.”

    So if I have it right, when LePetri throws gasoline on a cop and lights him up, it will be illegal to throw a bucket of water and try to put out the fire.

    1. +100

    2. The law is the law.

    3. What about pissing on them if they’re on fire?

      1. Best not to take any chances with the law.

    4. So, is throwing gasoline on a cop legal as long as you don’t light it up?

      1. Probably not, but in NYC, how can you tell?

  6. It’s all fun and games until a cop decides to fire 10 shots at someone throwing water at them injuring 9 bystanders and a brick wall.

    1. Or the cop loses control of the arrest from being doused, the arrested takes the opportunity to try to get away, and either he or the cop are injured in the ensuing struggle.

      Don’t assault a cop while he is making an arrest. Reason readers should know an arrest is already a very dangerous event that doesn’t need to be made more dangerous.

      1. Can we agree that it’s both a bad idea to throw water on a cop making and arrest and that it’s good if a cop in such a situation doesn’t freak out and escalate a tense situation?

        Otherwise, Radio Rahim gets killed and all hell breaks loose.

        1. A cop should never freak out, but the police should have arrested those who interfered with the arrest by assaulting an officer in the midst of the arrest.

          Enforcing the law escalates the risk in that moment.

          Not enforcing the law escalates the risk for the future, with the mob learning that they can get away with those kinds of assaults.

      2. Why not? If the cop is making an illegal arrest? Or an immoral one?

        Or are you one of those people who think that you can always get redress later from the courts – unless the cops tie you up in the back of a van and bounce around town until your neck breaks.

        1. unless the cops tie you up in the back of a van and bounce around town until your neck breaks.

          Because, of course, that never happened in that highly-slanted manner described.

  7. But the heat came round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day.

  8. A New Law Would Criminalize Throwing Water on NYPD Officers

    Isn’t that already illegal?

    1. Apparently not. Looks like I have new plans for the weekend.

  9. Battery is battery.
    I can understand why it would be against the law throwing water at cops.
    On the other hand, I don’t want to see cops shooting people who threw those water bombs at them.
    There has to be a balance here.
    This isn’t 1937.

  10. So, this implies that a category of items exist that are legal to throw at cops.

    Such as?

    1. Shackleton is holding out on us. Tell us what we need to know!

    2. Shade?
      Dirty looks?

      1. Not if Preet was still in NY.

    3. Money

  11. Try throwing water on DeBlasio, or a city council person of color, and see what happens

  12. Why would you respect someone who chooses such an immoral job?

    1. Reason Staff Writer? It wasn’t always a stain on one’s character

      1. Reason doesn’t have writers on staff. Minimum position seems to be ‘Associate Editor’.

  13. WTF? Anybody who throws water on a perfect stranger–cop or not–deserves a wood shampoo.

  14. This sounds like they want to take something which is already a crime and make it more illegal-er.

    But of course those clowns shouldn’t have been assaulting cops or anyone else – no, not even with water.

  15. It’s pure political bullshit.

    It’s popular to be a law breaking hooligan when people gather in public.

    It’s expected to lose a few police cars, buses and store fronts at any public celebration. Politicians brag when nobody is arrested.

    Rather than recognize they aren’t enforcing existing laws, it sounds better to say you’re “taking the proactive initiative to create a necessary law”.

    Politicians lie.

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