If the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases weren’t going to convince most Americans to see law enforcement in a different light, the assassination of two NYPD officers in their patrol car this weekend certainly won’t. The subsequent push-back against recent anti-police protesters is an illustration of why, despite a thousand problems, Americans continue to give law enforcement officers a wide latitude in doing their jobs. The Wall Street Journal report on the fallen officers reads less like Al Sharpton’s fever dreams and more like what most Americans probably think about their cops:
[O]fficers Rafael Ramos, a 40-year-old married father, and his partner, Wenjian Liu, 32 years old, were shot Saturday afternoon in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. The alleged 28-year-old gunman took his own life a short time later in a subway station.Officer Ramos joined the NYPD two years ago. Officer Liu was a seven-year veteran of the force who had gotten married two months ago.
Officers Ramos and Liu were hardly the overlords of the New Jim Crow that several commentators have made out the police to be. They’re fairly representative of the NYPD, which is nearly as diverse as the city of New York itself. As The New York Post reported earlier this year:
Whites make up 51 percent of the department, Hispanics 26 percent and Asians 6 percent, with the percentage of blacks about the same, according to the newer figures.“In the uniformed ranks, it’s virtually 50-50 [white vs. non-white],” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told The Post. “When you look at our ranks of 35,000 officers, we have a pretty representative force.”
Those figures don’t perfectly echo, but come very close, to the figures for NYC as a whole. One of the reasons liberals keep losing the racist cop argument is that their 1964 redux narrative fails to reflect a much more complex 2014 reality.This does not mean that there are not problems (often, as the Garner video showed, very serious ones) with some types of policing and particular police forces today. But demonizing cops writ large is a losing strategy.Officer Ramos and Officer Liu left the comfort and safety of their own homes to sit for the night outside of a Bed-Stuy housing project, a place most of us would fear to tread, with the intention of heading toward trouble if any broke out. This is the basic reality of policing that most Americans, if not the professional left, have kept in touch with.