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De-policing New York

Incredible as it seems, the people who want to undo the policing reforms that made New York City a much safer and more livable place than it used to be are gaining ground.  The current poster boy for this movement is Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold while resisting arrest.  Heather MacDonald has this article in the City Journal on the dire consequences of undoing New York's very successful policing efforts.  The article concludes:

The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers now is not "over-policing," and certainly not brutal policing. The NYPD has one of the lowest rates of officer shootings and killings in the country; it is recognized internationally for its professionalism and training standards. Deaths such as Garner's are an aberration, which the department does everything it can to avoid. The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers today is de-policing. After years of ungrounded criticism from the press and advocates, after highly publicized litigation and the passage of ill-considered laws--such as the one making officers financially liable for alleged "racial profiling"--NYPD officers have radically scaled back their discretionary activity. Pedestrian stops have dropped 80 percent citywide and almost 100 percent in some areas. The department is grappling with how to induce officers to use their lawful authority again to stop crime before it happens. Eric Garner's death was a heartbreaking tragedy, but if the unjustified backlash against misdemeanor enforcement takes root and finds a sympathetic audience in Mayor Bill De Blasio, the consequences for all New Yorkers will be even more dire.


"The current poster boy for this movement is Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold while resisting arrest."

I believe you phrased this incorrectly. A man by the name of Bill Otis previously stated "there's an old jury instruction to the effect that members of the jury "may infer that a person intends the natural and probable consequences of his acts." If that's true -- and it is -- the picture is beginning to take shape of what legalizers really want."

We can simply remove "legalizers" and input "police officers" and it would appear that Mr. Otis' logic would indicate that one can infer that officer Daniel Pantaleo intended to kill Mr. Garner, just like marijuana legalizers are intending to poison children. If a child unintentionally ingesting marijuana is a natural and probable consequence of a legalizer voting yes for recreational marijuana, then certainly a person dying can be seen as the natural and probable consequence of an aggressive chokehold.

Additionally, one can use this story about a specific group of officers to then label the entire law enforcement institution as aggressive killers. If this seems a bit far-fetched, just take a look at the posts you and Mr. Otis write with regards to stories about criminal defense lawyers. Looking through your archives both of you appear to take a single story about a lawyer's supposed misconduct or behavior, and then in that same story attribute this type of behavior to the entire defense bar.

Obviously, logical consistency is not the focus of your blog, as any reader could quickly pick-up on. You and Mr. Otis are both clearly entrenched in your partisanship views, and your commentary is reflective of your 'my side is right, your side is wrong' mentality. But then again, I too am biased as I tend to prefer more informative and academic blogs such as the Volokh Conspiracy.

I will refrain from holding my breathe waiting for a post showing sympathy for the victim here, Eric Garner (if you do not remember, he is the human being that died, leaving behind a family).


I'll let Bill speak for himself. You don't cite anything I have written that says or implies that I think pro-legalization folks are trying to poison children or that the misconduct of some defense lawyers apply to the whole bar. I'm fairly sure I have not written anything that could reasonably be construed to say either of those things.

I have said that one segment of the defense bar -- the capital defense bar -- has developed a culture of obstruction. That is true, but that inference does not come from applying to all the misconduct of a few. It comes from observation of tactics over the whole body of cases.

I haven't commented on the Garner case because I have not looked into the particular facts myself. I mentioned the case in this post only as background to introduce MacDonald's article. I quote MacDonald saying his "death was a heartbreaking tragedy."

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