Right wingers like to complain about New York City. Eeeeh! It’s full of icky people and crime and you aren’t allowed to walk around with a big gun slung over your back, they kvetch. But Help a Cop, a new initiative sponsored by the Sergeants
Malevolent Benevolent Association could have them flocking to the Big Apple.
Ed Mullins, the President of the New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), is announcing a plan that, in certain instances, will provide $500 rewards to civilians who come to the assistance of police officers engaged in violent physical confrontations with people assaulting law enforcement personnel or resisting arrest.
A chance to win $500 on top of the opportunity to engage in legally-sanctioned assault? They won’t be able to keep wanna-be vigilantes out of the city. There will be special tours of places police regularly arrest the sort of people who can be slapped around with impunity. Studios that teach 10 tips for effective suspect stomping will open. Commemorative nightsticks will be come the hot new souvenir!
The Help a Cop website doesn’t define violent physical physical confrontations, assault of law enforcement personnel, or resisting arrest. It could be that the SBA wants bystanders to enjoy the thrill and excitement of deciding that it is OK to rush in and start stomping on someone because, in the bystander’s opinion, the person is violent or resisting arrest.
Or it could be that the SBA is so desperate to cut down on the number of inconvenient videos of police officers maiming and killing people that it is trying to distract people by throwing cash in the air.
“We are by no means asking the public to become vigilantes, but far too often we see police officers engaged in violent struggles while members of the public stand by taking videos with their cell phones,” said Mullins.
And taking a video and jumping into the middle of a fight are basically the same thing. Or something.
At any rate, the $500 isn’t guaranteed. A police officer would have to recommend someone for the reward. In addition “apparatus is also being implemented to form a panel to validate such claims of assistance from civilians,” the press release states.
In other words, the only way anyone will get any money is if an officer involved in the incident decides to recommend them for the reward. However, the opportunity to Take Down a Bad Guy will be enough for they sort of person who goes through a carboy of lotion and a Costco-sized bundle of sweat socks while watching the latest Die Hard movie. Really, the SBA could charge people $500 for the chance to kneel on the head of some homeless person who fell asleep in the wrong doorway, or a school kid suspected of stealing a candy bar. It wouldn’t be long before they’d need to get some more widows and orphans to support.
The SBA makes a big deal about helping cops who are being attacked, and it blames the NYPD for bolder criminals who are doing the attacking. One thing it does not mention is risk. Either the risk of being injured while trying to help an officer, or the risk of being sued by the person who was arrested. For the former, it looks like the amateur Dirty Harrys will be on their own for medical expenses, but legislation is being drafted that would protect people from law suits.
Brooklyn Senator Martin Golden will introduce a new Good Samaritan law to shield those from liability if they help officers.
Of course. Personally, I think the main risk in rushing up to a police officer who is already struggling with someone is that the officer could panic and shoot the person who is trying to help. But I’m on the Not Okay end of the Family Guy security checkpoint card, so I know this initiative is not intended for such as me.
But it may be the police officers themselves who face the greatest risk thanks to this program. I’ve seen a couple of fights that involved more than two people. They were not at all like the carefully choreographed events one sees in movies, on TV, or in The Mended Drum in mellower times. They were more like a frantic, multi-limbed clusterfuck where everyone was trying to hit anyone else and usually succeeding. If someone happened to punch, kick, gouge, bite or elbow on an ally rather than an enemy there was little chance anyone would know who to blame. And in those fights none of the combatants were hoping to win $500 for their efforts.
That’s what the geniuses at the SBA have potentially unleashed on police officers in the name of helping the police. I guess if too many police get mauled thanks to people who are trying to help, the SBA can roll out another initiative designed to encourage people to stop people who are trying to help police officers make arrests.