The recent termination of a New York Police Department officer over his involvement in the death of a black suspect five years ago has coincided with a notable decline in arrests.
“The number of arrests and criminal summonses handled by city cops last week plummeted compared to the same period in 2018 — and law enforcement sources warn it’s the ‘Pantaleo Effect,’” the New York Post reported Monday.
“Arrests dropped 27% between Aug. 19 — the day Pantaleo was fired — and Aug. 25 compared to the same period in 2018, with police making 3,508 busts compared to 4,827. The number of criminal summonses issued fell nearly 29% over the same period, going from 1,655 to 1,181, the figures show.”
The “Pantaleo Effect” is named after now-fired officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was terminated from his job last week by NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill in part because of a recent recommendation by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado.
In a ruling earlier this month, Maldonado recommended that Pantaleo be fired for the events that occurred on July 17, 2014, the day that 6-foot-3, 395-pound black suspect Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by the now-terminated officer.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was “untruthful” during his interview with investigators after the death of Eric Garner. The cop’s repeated denial that he used an illegal chokehold on Garner in 2014, is “implausible and self-serving.”
-Judge Rosemarie Maldonado pic.twitter.com/1kqahOqGMX
— Kayla Mamelak (@KaylaMamelak) August 19, 2019
Though a grand jury ultimately declined to indict Pantaleo, and though Maldonado did admit in her ruling that Garner’s death hadn’t been intentional, O’Neill chose to terminate the officer last week. And in doing so, it appears he triggered an unfortunate side effect.
“Multiple law enforcement sources told The Post that while there is no organized slowdown, cops on the street clearly feel that the department doesn’t have their backs, so why should they needlessly put themselves on the line?” the Post notes.
“Who wants to be the last cop standing?” one unnamed Manhattan officer said to the paper. “If someone’s in trouble and needs help or if a cop’s in trouble, obviously, you do what you have to do as a police officer. But if it’s discretionary, why put yourself in harm’s way?’”
“Of course it has to do with what happened to Pantaleo — cops are frustrated, upset. They feel they don’t have the backing of downtown, Police Headquarters and City Hall,” an NYPD supervisor from Brooklyn added.
They feel as of the NYPD threw Pantaleo under the bus. Police Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch fervently shares this sentiment so much so that, following Pantaleo’s termination, he issued a statement urging other officers “to proceed with the utmost caution.”
“We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed ‘reckless’ just for doing their job,” he said. “We will uphold our oath, but we cannot and will not do so by needlessly jeopardizing our careers or personal safety.”
#BREAKING PBA STATEMENT ON @NYPDONeill’s DECISION TO FIRE P.O. PANTALEO
“The damage is already done. The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen, and Commissioner O’Neill will never be able to bring it back. Now it is time for every PO in this city to make their own choice.” pic.twitter.com/TAsNyXQG3J
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) August 19, 2019
And that’s exactly what the NYPD’s officers have been doing, though it’s not just because of Pantaleo’s termination. The recent spate of anti-cop activities in the NYC area have played a role as well. In fact, his termination came only a day after multiple officers were hospitalized for injuries sustained while trying to deal with an unruly party in Brooklyn.
“One of the cops injured Saturday night had to be hoisted onto a gurney by medics, who rushed him from the sidewalk outside Marcy Houses at around 11:10 p.m.,” the Post reported at the time.
“At least six or seven gunshots rang out from a rooftop of the housing project shortly afterward, causing no injuries but sending scores of cops running toward the gunfire.”
These attacks likewise occurred only weeks after marauding gangs of troublemakers across the NYC area doused a number of officers with buckets of water.
All these events, including Pantaleo’s termination, have led to officers feeling as they’re alone out on the streets — as if their political leaders don’t have their backs.
“Officers are not supported,” Ed Mullins, the head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said last month. “That’s the sentiment of the rank and file. They’re afraid to get involved because they know they don’t have the backing of the commissioner or the mayor.”
It doesn’t help that their mayor has trashed them on national TV. During the first round of Democrat presidential primary debates in June, de Blasio argued that to stop street violence, the police need to change their relationship with the communities they patrol. Especially the black communities they patrol. To bolster this point, the mayor described how he’s raised his black son, Dante, to essentially be afraid of the racist police.
Mullins warned last month that if current trends continue, there’s a high probability that the crime explosions that rocked NYC’s past may soon make a comeback.
“[C]rooks are getting emboldened. … Perps know they’re not being searched for firearms. When you talk to the people of the city, they don’t feel safe. They see homelessness, people urinating in the street, turnstile jumping. … We’re not enforcing crimes anymore,” he said.
“The cops are confused as to what you want them to do. The backing off of law enforcement is beginning to erode the city.”