The NYT Editorial Board’s Schizophrenic View Of Police Enforcement

Dustin Siggins Contributor
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Someone call a doctor. The New York Times‘ editorial staff has a tremendous case of whiplash.

Back in November, the Times published an editorial that concluded it was a “fact” that “many police officers see black men as expendable figures on the urban landscape, not quite human beings.” The editorial excoriated police, saying that “[officers] are justifiably seen as an alien, occupying force that is synonymous with state-sponsored abuse.”

Today, however, the Times is criticizing police for not being active enough in their law enforcement. According to the editorial staff, “for the second straight week, police officers across the city have all but stopped writing tickets and severely cut down the number of arrests.” The editorial also called the situation “a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy” by police.

Got that? Six weeks ago, the NYT editorial staff wanted you to know that police enforcement is racist, and treats black people as subhuman. Today, it wants you to know that those same police are abandoning their duty to protect the public.

But as the president of the New York PBA, Patrick Lynch, pointed out, the drop is a survival technique for police who have been demonized by the likes of Al Sharpton and the New York Times. According to Lynch, “precautions had to be taken to protect police officers so that they could protect the city’s communities” after the December 20 ambush and killing of two officers.

“Statistics sometimes have to take a back seat to safety,” Lynch said in a statement.

In other words: Police aren’t going to put themselves at risk over traffic tickets and other small crimes.

And who can blame them? While some police certainly abuse their authority, and thus reforms to the transparency of investigations and the use of body cameras are necessary, people like the editorial staff of the Times have thrown police as a whole under the bus, regardless of the facts surrounding their claims and the realities of police action against black Americans.

And what are those facts? According to the Times‘ November editorial, “a grim report by ProPublica [showed] that young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk — 21 times greater — of being shot dead by police than young white men.”

ProPublica refuted these and similar claims, however, saying that their data “does not prove that police officers target any age or racial group.”

Related, as noted by Just Facts president James Agresti (disclosure: Just Facts is a client), black Americans “represent 14% of the U.S. population, at least 54% of murder offenders, and roughly 33% of the people killed by police.”

In other words, says Agresti, “these data indicate that relative to the murder threat posed by people of different races, police are less likely to kill black people than others.” This is similar to data found by the FBI from 2000 to 2010 — 40 percent of homicides were committed by black Americans, and 47 percent of victims were black.

Racism and police abuse exist in America, and are moral wrongs that should be stopped. But the Times‘ hypocrisy helps nobody, and it ignores where the fault most often lies with those who are hurt or killed committing deadly crimes: with the perpetrators, regardless of race.