The NYPD has always busted perps who have the audacity to perp within the confines of New York City. But then 9/11 happened, and the NYPD learned they had to start thinking globally. They evolved. But their “evolution” was less like a gradual change necessitated by extenuating circumstances and more like they suddenly got blasted by gamma radiation and gained incredible superpowers they had absolutely no idea what to do with. For example …
The NYPD Now Has Offices All Over The World
Through the International Liaison Program, NYPD detectives are now stationed in 13 cities around the globe, from Paris to Amman to Sydney. If you’re surprised that New York City would have flatfoots permanently operating on the majority of Earth’s continents, you aren’t alone. When bombs went off in Bali in 2005, Indonesian police were understandably “astonished and irritated that the NYPD showed up.”
But officers of the International Liaison Program are setting up NYPD franchises like Starbucks, all to ask the New York Question. No, not “Which is the real Original Famous Rays?” The other one: “Did New York come up anywhere in this investigation?” And since it’s a city of 8.5 million people from 200 countries speaking over 140 languages, that happens more often than you might think.
Sending a few sworn members overseas for a little proactive collaboration and information-sharing makes good sense, but is typically something a nation would do, not a single city. Shouldn’t federal agencies be taking care of stuff like that? The FBI certainly thinks so; their own involvement in foreign affairs has actually resulted in a bizarre rivalry, with G Men and cops butting heads in a “testosterone rich” turf war. Somewhere in Shanghai, an NYPD officer is arguing with an FBI agent over who has jurisdiction. Imagine how confused the Chinese cops are.
The NYPD Has One Of The Largest, Smartest Surveillance Systems In The World
Citizens from London to Beijing live with an unprecedented lack of privacy, thanks to surveillance cameras watching every alleyway and street corner. Truly, Big Brother is here. But the biggest brother of them all is the NYPD. While many cities have security cameras, the NYPD was the first police department to seamlessly link them together into a single network which can pinpoint and follow an individual through the system. The technology is called the Domain Awareness System (DAS), and was developed in partnership with Microsoft, so you know it probably works some of the time.
This capability for mass surveillance (along with other developments like Stingray devices, which can home in on individual cell phones) has raised plenty of new ethical issues. But don’t worry, the NYPD is aware of those issues, and it has an answer: “Video will be held for 30 days and then deleted unless the NYPD chooses to archive it.” That’s a sentence so uninformative it could have appeared in USA Today.
A bill put forth in the New York City Council this March seeks to give some oversight to the terms of “how, when, and with what authority [the NYPD] uses [these] technologies,” but at this point the public is still completely in the dark. So maybe people are worried for nothing, and the NYPD will be the first authority in history not to abuse a wild expansion of its powers without any oversight.
It could happen!
Oh, and did we mention the NYPD wasn’t merely the beta test for Microsoft’s new police-friendly system, but is in fact a profit-sharing partner in it, making 30 percent of the proceeds from licensing the DAS to other cities worldwide? That means the same police force that came up with “broken windows” policing now has a financial interest in “Windows policing.” Maybe the plan is to make enough money to move somewhere with a lower crime rate.
The NYPD’s “Demographics Unit” Was An Unconstitutional Profiling Task Force
Some claim that police profiling perpetuates a racist agenda, while others say that it’s nothing but practical procedure. The matter requires nuanced and level-headed debate. The NYPD will not be participating in that debate. They already assumed they won, and jumped ahead to the part where they actively monitor Muslims for suspicious activity.
It was all thanks to the “training and support” the Demographics Unit received from the Central Intelligence Agency. Operating abroad, the CIA wasn’t overly concerned with constitutional law. As such, the training they gave the NYPD wasn’t all that concerned either. Their protocol was to establish an extensive network of informants and undercover officers, without regard as to whether or not it happened to be legal to do so. They deployed undercover officers to infiltrate communities and spied on them, regardless of whether there was or wasn’t any particular suspicion of criminal activity. They looked for any supposed anti-American sentiment in local mosques, bookstores, and cafes. They even went so far as to listen in on Muslims playing cricket — which, to be fair, is so confusing that it could all be code for terrorist activity as far as we know.
Despite the massive spying network, the Demographics Unit didn’t produce any leads. (Why, it’s almost as though the vast majority of Muslims don’t have anything to do with terrorist plots.) The controversial unit was eventually dropped after being the subject of two lawsuits and criticism from the FBI, which said the program had harmed national security by creating a rift between law enforcement and Muslim communities. Or, you know, widened that rift. From “the Grand Canyon” to, like, “the Grand Canyon and a half.”
Just this year, it was made mandatory that a civilian watchdog be allowed to sit on the NYPD panel that governs surveillance operations. This all came about as a part of a settlement with civil rights lawyers trying to “protect Muslims from unconstitutional monitoring.” Surely, the current presidential administration will continue to advance this respectful treatment in all its dealings with the Muslim community.
The NYPD Has The Numbers, And The Arms, To Be Considered An Army
We probably weren’t meant to take New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg literally when he said, “I have my own army in the NYPD.”
The NYPD is no army.
It’s only 96 percent of an army.
Why, Finland alone has a standing army of 36,500 troops, which is a whopping 4 percent larger than the NYPD’s force of approximately 35,000 uniformed cops. Oh, but then that’s almost double Hungary’s 20,000. So maybe the NYPD is two armies.
Regardless, you can’t have a proper “army” without armaments and special forces and all the rest of that crazy war stuff. Like those gunboats and submersible drones the NYPD Harbor Unit uses to check the undersides of ships for explosives. Or New York’s “Hercules Teams,” special forces that are highly trained in modern urban warfare and armed with submachine guns and snubnosed combat shotguns.
Oh right, and the armored combat vehicles those forces roll out in. If the NYPD throws down on a couple of jets to combat the looming pigeon threat, they can make their army status official. Luckily, they’re all disciplined and well-controlled …
The NYPD Itself Has Rioted Against The City … As Recently As 1992
In 1992, on the heels of the Rodney King uprising in LA, New York dealt with the Crown Heights riot and the Washington Heights riot. A good portion of the NYPD felt that Mayor Dinkins didn’t do enough to support them in the aftermath. He supported a civilian review board to look into police misconduct, refused to issue cops semiautomatic weapons, and even decided to be New York’s first black mayor.
Clearly, a protest was in order. It was no small, orderly affair — over 10,000 off-duty cops showed up, many of them roaring drunk, openly displaying their firearms, blocking traffic, and eventually storming City Hall.
It was among New York City’s largest civil disturbances (which is a depressingly long list), but it was less violent than most, in part because the protestors met with no resistance from their fellow officers when they hopped the barricades and took over City Hall.
That was only 25 years ago. Now they have officers on every continent, massive surveillance systems, and friggin’ gunboats. If you weren’t worried then, maybe you should be now.