Not literally, of course — but if present trends continue, the NYPD will be run de facto by the feds. It’s hard to see where else the growing federal role in policing could lead.
Federal judges and attorneys now routinely urge the appointment of monitors and the imposition of consent decrees to permit them to assume authority over wide swaths of local policing.
In his final days as US attorney general, Eric Holder has suggested lowering the standard of proof in civil-rights cases to make it easier to bring federal charges against an accused police officer.
As Holder put it last week, “We can make the federal government a better backstop, make this more a part of the process . . . to reassure the American people that decisions are made by people who are really disinterested.”
Incidents that were once only of local interest are now fodder for the national news.
People in California march with their hands up to symbolize the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Protesters in Boston shout “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner before his death in police custody on Staten Island after resisting arrest for a minor violation.
Police everywhere are on the grill not only for problems in their own cities, but for the supposed sins of their brothers and sisters in blue elsewhere in the country.
The coming marches across America will bring even greater pressure for federal control over police departments.
It does no good for some police chiefs to point out that their officers haven’t killed anyone under questionable circumstances.
No one wants to listen when a chief points out how he has brought down murder in the inner city, or that for every black person killed by a police officer, 200 or 300 are slain by black criminals.
Police violence alone is no longer the issue for many critics. It’s that virtually everything cops do is disrespectful to the black community, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “unconscious racism.”
This week’s Justice Department report on Ferguson proposed a total overhaul of the town’s police force, a solution some see as the only answer to policing problems.
But the implications stretch far beyond Missouri: The standard that underlies Justice’s demands on Ferguson implies more federal demands on, and more legally mandated federal oversight of, police departments across the country.
We’ll soon learn more about this phenomenon here in New York, when our new federal monitor starts throwing his weight around.
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