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NYPD Union Rep Complains That He's Increasingly Afraid to Arrest People for No Good Reason

Can't bust some guy for smoking a joint on the stairs. What's the world coming to?

So here's whoever's manning the official account of a New York Police Department union complaining in a comically misworded tweet that he's afraid to arrest a random guy who isn't doing anything wrong:

This was on the official account of the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), headed by Ed Mullins. The borderline-incoherent typos are a recurring theme with the group's Twitter feed.

To attempt to clarify, the tweet appears to be complaining about the one guy smoking marijuana while sitting on the steps, and does not intend to state that hundreds of people passing by are also smoking marijuana, even if that's how it reads.

The cop is not suggesting that the man is doing anything to harm anybody other than smoking marijuana. He is complaining that the smoker might be in the country illegally (what does that have to do with anything?), and he is concerned that a cop could get into trouble if the guy resists arrest. He doesn't seem interested in asking the man to move so that he's not blocking the stairs. To the SBA, apparently, the only two policing options are to arrest or totally walk away.

I guess this must be the SBA's response to the news that the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will "reform" how the city enforces marijuana laws and to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s announcement that his office will decline to prosecute marijuana possession and smoking cases.

Today the New York Daily News reports that de Blasio is going to order the New York Police Department to stop arresting people for smoking marijuana in public as the city prepares for the increasing likelihood that the state will legalize recreational marijuana soon.

Those announcements came on the heels of a New York Times report last week that showed minorities are far more likely to be busted for marijuana possession than whites. This was not a matter of there being more open marijuana use in parts of the city with higher percentages of minorities. The story compared the rates of complaints to the police about public marijuana use in predominantly white and predominantly minority communities; even when the rate of complaints were similar, arrests were far more likely in minority neighborhoods.

Even after the state decriminalized personal possession of marijuana to a citable offense, New York cops continued for years to arrest people for possession. The numbers have finally started to fall as the police started treating decriminalization seriously: The city's total plunged from 50,000 arrests in 2011 to about 17,000 in 2017. Yet this reduction has not caused a crime wave. Frankly, this SBA cop should be grateful he doesn't have to spend his time arresting this harmless gentleman and can focus on responding to criminal complaints that involve injury to others or their property.

But then again, this is the same union Twitter account that recently had a public freakout at the very suggestion that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution required police to get a warrant to legally search a person.

Photo Credit: Guruxox / Dreamstime.com

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I guess to understand that tweet I need to know the totality of his feed.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Justed walk away, Fist.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Good tweet

  • gormadoc||

    There's a lot of self-fellation.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    The borderline-incoherent typos are a recurring theme with the group's Twitter feed.

    Man, when you're being called out on borderline-incoherent typos by a Reason editor, you have truly hit rock bottom.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He is complaining that the smoker might be in the country illegally (what does that have to do with anything?),

    With the typos and poor use of English, I was wondering if that's what he meant, or that the guy was actually engaging in illegal activity? Ie, will his actions found to be illegal by the system once arrested. I found the whole thing strange.

  • gormadoc||

    That was my read but the rest of the sentence is incomprehensible so there's no context to help.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""what if he's illegal,""

    I think he's clearly referring to the person, not behavior or action.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    God, the last photo is the one that really pisses me off. Knowing that this guy was smoking the Mary Jane in view of, not just one but, more than one American flag.

    Should have held a taser to his fucking back until his organs ruptured.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    God, the last photo is the one that really pisses me off. Knowing that this guy was smoking the Mary Jane in view of, not just one but, more than one American flag.

    Should have held a taser to his fucking back until his organs ruptured.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Frankly, this SBA cop should be grateful he doesn't have to spend his time arresting this harmless gentleman and can focus on responding to criminal complaints that involve injury to others or their property.

    You don't understand, the only reason most people become cops is to bash reefer smoking hippies while yelling "Stop resisting," be a glorified tax collector, and steal people's shit. It makes them feel like big tuff gais without having to face any real danger. You start taking those things away and all that's left is the parts of the job that might actually be dangerous. So it's not surprising that their union would bitch and moan about not getting to do those things as much. These Heroes need to be able to get home safe at night, and that's all that matters.

  • Ska||

    Funny, I was explaining to someone why cops in big city police departments (or at least NYPD from experience, LAPD from others' experiences) are such shitbags in general: they love the idea of being petty criminals but don't have the balls to really be one. They settle for NYPD thug: it pays better and is a lot safer.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    they love the idea of being petty criminals but don't have the balls to really be one. They settle for NYPD thug

    Pretty much, yeah. They get to do ~99% of the same shit they'd get to do as a criminal with zero consequences for their actions.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    To the SBA, apparently, the only two policing options are to arrest or totally walk away.


    Only the Sith speak in absolutes.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    So I justed walked away.

    His last photo clearly shows the perp walking away.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    NYPD cops are allowed to tweet while on the job? That would at least lead to a reprimand out here in the real world.

  • crufus||

    NYPD should start requiring officers to read and write at a minimum of a sixth grade level.

  • Paloma||

    It's tricky. They have to read and write at a minimum of sixth grade level, but can't go OVER 12th grade level.

  • Longtobefree||

    Not all that tricky; in NY sixth grade level IS twelfth grade level.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    The cops are worried because if they didn't bust harmless dudes smoking weed they wouldn't have anything to do, and people might even wonder if the city needs many cops. Michael Bloomberg had lots of bad ideas, but one good one was to reduce the number of firefighters by 40% because the number of fires in NYC had already declined by 40%. Naturally, he got nowhere with that.

  • BillyG||

    but one good one was to reduce the number of firefighters by 40% because the number of fires in NYC had already declined by 40%.

    Having had to do service and statistical analysis on this sort of thing, a 40% reduction in fires doesn't in fact mean you can do a 40% reduction in Fire Fighters. If you have to have a response time of X minutes with Y probability, that's going to drive station placement, number of stations, number of fires each station has to respond to, and number of fire fighters.

    I'm not saying there can't be a reduction, just that you can't automatically say its a straight 1:1 correlation.

  • Tony||

    Plus you always would prefer firefighters showing up to deal with your situation than cops.

  • Longtobefree||

    If you have to have a response time of X minutes with Y probability, that's going to drive station placement, number of stations, number of fires each station has to respond to, and number of fire fighters.

    Or you can just put the stations where the politicians say, and hire as many firefighters as politicians have friends.

  • Tony||

    I initially read it as two trivial crimes as well: the guy loitering and the hundreds of weed smokers passing.

    Apparently "We are all Barry," i.e., the cop who shot a black grandmother to death for no reason and was acquitted.

    Their definition of injustice appears to be "Why can't we needlessly fuck with people more, gosh!"

  • Bubba Jones||

    I am going to take the road less traveled and actually defend the cop.

    The cop has been tasked with enforcing the prohibition on smoking marijuana. He is concerned that if he enforces this prohibition, he might have to use force, and it might later turn out that he beat up an illegal immigrant in the course of enforcing the law.

    To this point, he is making an observation that is routinely made here. The difference is that he doesn't draw the conclusion that maybe banning marijuana smoking is stupid, if we don't think the consequences of that enforcement are just. Instead, he laments the fact that when he beats a mexican over the head for smoking pot, he won't be praised for enforcing the law and getting home safe.

    But at least he has made the connection between enforcing stupid laws and beating up sympathetic people.

    I think we should praise this cop for at least trying to make it clear if that we are going to ban pot smoking, we need to be prepared to beat up some protected classes.

  • Rossami||

    Gotta disagree with your starting premise, Bubba. He was not "tasked with enforcing the prohibition on smoking marijuana". Or more precisely, he used to be tasked with that responsibility but is now mouthing off about being relieved of that task. Police are part of the Executive Branch and are accountable to the Chief Executives of their respective jurisdictions. If the Mayor says stop doing X (and it's within his authority and discretion to order that), then the NYPD stops doing X.

    Frankly, I have no sympathy. This pseudo-random bully from the SBA doesn't want to be a cop any more? I'm having trouble seeing that as a bad thing.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "So here's whoever's manning the official account of a New York Police Department union complaining in a comically misworded tweet that he's afraid to arrest a random guy who isn't doing anything wrong:"

    The dude is sitting in a subway stairway. That should be a crime by itself.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Fuck da po-po

  • Mark22||

    The cop is not suggesting that the man is doing anything to harm anybody other than smoking marijuana

    It's illegal.

    He is complaining that the smoker might be in the country illegally (what does that have to do with anything?),

    He isn't "complaining", he is concerned that he would get in trouble for arresting an illegal immigrant, since NYC considers itself an "immigration sanctuary" of some form.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Exactly. His job as an officer isn't to ignore laws he doesn't like. That sort of police discretion and unequal application of the law is how we get police abuse.

    If you don't like marijuana being illegal or illegal aliens being illegal, then change the law. Don't ask the cops to look the other way.

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