If NYPD officers were required to reside within the five boroughs, they'd be less prone to racist misconduct, contends Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who is pushing a bill that would require cops to live locally. "If you live in New York City, you’re more likely to appreciate the need for racial unity and harmony in this city," the Brooklyn Democrat told reporters yesterday. His proposal comes in response to a controversial Facebook group called "No More West Indian Day Detail," which featured borderline bigoted comments by numerous users who appeared to be NYPD officers.
The NYPD Internal Affairs is investigating the officers whose names matched the offensive comments, and Commissioner Ray Kelly says the cops could face disciplinary action. But the NYCLU is standing up for the officers: Executive Director Donna Lieberman insists government employees must be able to express their opinions. She tells the AP the government can't restrict anyone's speech, and "that comes into play not only when we like what they have to say, but also when they say obnoxious, disgusting and hateful things."
Jeffries, on the other hand, doesn't see this as a First Amendment thing. He held a press conference yesterday to announce his proposal, which various lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to pass over the years. "We’re still convinced that the overwhelming majority of officers are decent individuals," Jeffries told reporters. "But the racial intolerance that has festered in this department has reached an extreme level, and it is necessary that we take steps to remedy the situation." Councilwoman Letitia James also announced her support for such a law, saying, "The reality is that when police officers live in communities, they respect the community. They have an understanding of the people that they are purporting to serve."
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke is also joining Jeffries to call for such a law. But Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, issued this statement: "The first priority in hiring police officers should be to find individuals of the highest quality and then to pay them a salary that is competitive. About 60 percent of New York City police officers live within the five boroughs, and most have to work a second job or must have their spouse work in order to afford to live in the city they protect. Residency requirements did not work in the past, and we will oppose such a requirement for the future."
And Jeffries's proposal hasn't exactly been embraced on the law enforcement message board NYPD Rant, where anonymous commenters make that Facebook group seem like a sophisticated stuffed animal tea party. "I'm trying to figure out why this cry baby is blaming the cops for some of these people acting like animals," opines one poster, while another recalls, "I love how the piece of sh*t Media would rather focus on the facebook comments about the parade and angry pigeons at ground zero instead of what really happens at this parade. I worked this parade probably 10-12 times in my career and when I wasn't in the refrigerated area of the closest bodega Ive seen Sh*t that would make the average person shake their head in disbelief."