Is the NYPD Work Slowdown a Bad Thing…Or a Good Thing?

NYPDLogoBy Elaine Magliaro

On December 31, 2014, Matt Taibbi published an article at Rolling Stone titled The NYPD’s ‘Work Stoppage’ Is Surreal. The reason for the “virtual work stoppage”—or slowdown—is the anger that many NYPD officers feel toward the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.


Furious at embattled mayor Bill de Blasio, and at what Police Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch calls a “hostile anti-police environment in the city,” the local officers are simply refusing to arrest or ticket people for minor offenses – such arrests have dropped off a staggering 94 percent, with overall arrests plunging 66 percent.

If you’re wondering exactly what that means, the Post is reporting that the protesting police have decided to make arrests “only when they have to.” (Let that sink in for a moment. Seriously, take 10 or 15 seconds).

Substantively that mostly means a steep drop-off in parking tickets, but also a major drop in tickets for quality-of-life offenses like carrying open containers of alcohol or public urination.

Matt Taibbi on the Police Slowdown in New York City

Taibbi said he didn’t know of any police officer who would “refuse to arrest a truly dangerous criminal as part of a PBA-led political gambit.” He said that—in effect—the police protest appears to be about hitting Mayor de Blasio “where it hurts, i.e. in the budget, without actually endangering the public.” He added that the police slowdown is unwittingly “leading to the exposure of the very policies that anger so many different constituencies about modern law-enforcement tactics.”

Taibbi continued by saying that the slowdown “shines a light on the use of police officers to make up for tax shortfalls using ticket and citation revenue.” He noted the more important issue was that of police officers being required “to make thousands of arrests and issue hundreds of thousands of summonses when they don’t ‘have to.’” Taibbi also pointed out the irony that the police had decided to abandon quality-of-life actions like public urination tickets and open-container violations…” because it was precisely those types of interactions that were “at the heart of the Broken Windows polices” that so infuriated “residents of so-called ‘hot spot’ neighborhoods.”


In an alternate universe where this pseudo-strike wasn’t the latest sortie in a standard-issue right-versus left political showdown, one could imagine this protest as a progressive or even a libertarian strike, in which police refused to work as backdoor tax-collectors and/or implement Minority Report-style pre-emptive policing policies, which is what a lot of these Broken Windows-type arrests amount to.

Jacob Siegel, writing for The Daily Beast, noted that cutting “off low level arrests was supposed to be a bargaining tactic for police officers in New York, but not all of them want the slowdown to end.” Siegel said that the slowdown—which may be coming to an end soon—will be an unhappy moment for some police officers who “never liked making the penny ante collars in the first place.”

Over the past few years, Taibbi said, he had met a number of police officers who “complained vigorously about things like the ‘empty the pad’ policies in some precincts, where officers were/are told by superiors to fill predetermined summons quotas every month.” Taibbi thinks it would be “amazing” if the police protest/slowdown in New York City “somehow brought parties on all sides to a place where we could all agree that policing should just go back to a policy of officers arresting people ‘when they have to.’”


The NYPD’s ‘Work Stoppage’ Is Surreal (Rolling Stone)

The NYPD Slowdown’s Dirty Little Secret (The Daily Beast)


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7 Responses to Is the NYPD Work Slowdown a Bad Thing…Or a Good Thing?

  1. eniobob says:

    ““only when they have to.” Duh ?
    And it only cost you $14.00 one way to drive into New York and you haven’t done anything,haven’t parked,haven’t gone to where ever you are going NOTHING,$14.00.
    Then to hear this nonsense that has been going for what seems like forever now.

    The other day one of the Union heads said they just want an apology from the mayor ?

  2. Mike Spindell says:

    I find it interesting that with all the union busting since Reagan the police unions have only gotten more powerful. Could it be the guns?

    Taibbi raises an interesting question that Eniobob illustrates regarding bridge tolls. By using the too much taxes propaganda meme to make politicians afraid, they have looked for alternative means of financing needed programs and raising needed revenue. In NYC bridge tolls, parking meters/tickets and non-safety related traffic viloations fill the coffers. That these hidden taxes fall mainly on those who can least afford it makes life a form of indentured servitude. Even the subways, vital to the Cityare over priced and under subsidized. Meanwhile the infrastructure crumbles. The anti-tax people represent terrorists destroying America.

  3. Elaine M. says:


    And who has been paying these “hidden taxes?” Certainly, not the moneyed people who live in posh residences in the city–but the poor working class folks/minorities who can least afford to pay the fines.

  4. Mike Spindell says:


    It is so true that the burden falls on the poorer NYC’ers. One of the reasons I moved to Florida from my beloved NYC was that I could no longer afford to rent or buy there and I’m comfortable financially. Yet even though the bridges and tunnels leading to NYC, or even among the boroughs are $14 round trip, they are in poor condition both esthetically and from an engineering point of view. The outer borough infrastructure is poor, whereas Manhattan from 120 Street down seems like Disneyland. A 600 square foot studio in Manhattan costs about $700,000 to $1,000,000 depending on location. Who but the wealthy, or near wealthy can afford it?

    When I spend my summers in the upstste Catskill Mountains it typically costs me $25 per day in tolls to visit my family. In the 1970’s I was able to live in GramercyPark section of Manhattan on a casewtker’s salary ina rent controlled building. That possibilty no longer exists in My City, because it is now totally controlled by the 1%. DeBlasio is making some effort to change this and that is why he is getting tremendous opposition.

  5. bigfatmike says:

    There are news reports that minorities are expressing genuine relief at not being subjected to arbitrary stops, questioning, and frisks that have plagued their lives for the better part of a decade.

    The police union (I personally have no doubt that the work slow down traces to the union) may have outsmarted itself by proving the lie of ‘Broken windows policing’.

    Further, if the work slow down continues, it may demonstrate that LE ranks are either overstaffed or poorly deployed. In either case great savings may result from changing the way police in NYC work. I doubt that is the result LE was aiming for when this started.

  6. Elaine M. says:

    America’s over-policing bombshell: How new data proves “stop & frisk” critics were right all along
    NYPD’s aggressive “stop & frisk” policy divided a city into two camps. Now, new stats say the opponents were right

    • bigfatmike says:

      To believe that stop and frisk had much of an effect you have to believe in a miracle of sorts.

      From the late 1960’s till the early 1990’s crime rates rose all over the country. In NYC the murder rate rose to over 2000/yr in 1992.

      In the early 1990’s those crime rates all over the country began to fall. That decline continues to this very day.

      We don’t know why they began to fall. But they did. For the sake of argument lets just call that unknown reason for declining crime rates the AC factor, for anti crime factor.

      All over the country and in NYC the AC factor was operating to reduce crime. In NYC AC was associated with a fall in the murder rate of over 2000 in 1992 to about 700 in 2007. All over the country crime rates continued to fall till this very day.

      In NYC the murder rate fell from around 700 in 2007 to around 400 in 2012. To believe that stop and frisk had much to do with the decline from 700 to 400 what you have to believe is that AC stopped working in NYC the very year that stop and frisk was adopted. And that AC continued not to work in NYC from 2007 till 2012/2013. Then AC started working again in NYC after stop and frisk stopped. All the while we know that AC, what ever it might be, continued to work all over the country reducing all kinds of crime.

      We have nearly 25 years of solid data (1990 through 2014) that crime rates were declining all over the country. We don’t know the precise causes or social factors that influenced that decline. But the statistics are there in the DOJ/FBI crime stats. To believe that stop and frisk had much of effect you have to believe that from approximately 2007 through approximately 2013 the AC factor stopped working in NYC. Then when stop and frisk was discontinued the AC factor started working again in NYC. And you have to believe that some how when AC stopped working in NYC it continued to work all over the country.

      It boggles the mind that politicians would make such outlandish claims and that large numbers of people would fall for such mystical thinking.

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