By Jared Chausow
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Needless to say, I was pretty pissed about her getting robbed. It wasn't so much the act as the fact that someone had shown so much disregard for her life and his own (armed robbery will earn you a trip upstate) that he would just pull out a gun. The guy didn't even get anything valuable. While I was waiting for her to come back, I thought about my dad and how, despite his own negative feelings toward the police, he strongly believed that people who endangered themselves and their communities should be removed. I always wondered how he reconciled animus toward police and strong belief in the necessity of jail, and then, at that moment, I understood.
They didn't catch the guy that nightthough my partner later identified him in a photo lineup. If they'd relegated the case to File 19, I would have totally understood. After all, a holdup for a few bucks must rank as pretty small potatoes. But they didn't drop it. The officer in charge of the case calls every couple weeks to give updates on their progress. He's courteous, and in a city where there must be more serious crimes, I marvel at his tenacity for trying to close a case over a run-of-the-mill mugging. Frankly, I wouldn't want his job in a million years, but it's really hard to not appreciate him doing it.
Feel free to note the obviousI am indeed the last person in the world who should be falling in love with the cops. Like most black men my age, I'm a serial cop-hater, armed with an astonishing array of ill encounters with flatfoots. Young black male rule number 4,080when you see Jake strolling down your side of the street, get your English proper and cross to the other side.
Lately they've begun lining up by the dozen on Flatbush, and when I see them a warm fuzzy feeling blooms in my bones. Suddenly a late-night stroll is, well, a slightly safer stroll. The honor guard is courtesy of Operation Impact, a program the city expanded last month in hopes of subduing the worst havens for crime. So far the results have been promising. New York itself is in the midst of an anti-crime wave unseen since 1968. According to the FBI, New York has the lowest crime rate of any city in the country with over a million people. In December, The New York Times reported that New York was roughly as safe as Ann Arbor, Michiganpopulation 100,000.
For black New Yorkers who endured the tyrannical insensitivity that was Rudy Giuliani, the stats have come at heavy personal cost, paid in harassment, anger, and fear. The city has been the scene of torture and killing provisioned by the badgeAmadou Diallo in a Bronx doorway, Abner Louima in a Brooklyn station house, Patrick Dorismand on the West Side, Anthony Baez outside his family home, Timothy Stansbury on a projects roof.
Bloomberg is no Giuliani. As opposed to polarizing the city, he has united it in hatred of him. A Quinnipiac University poll this month found that he has an approval rating of just 35 percent among African Americans and Latinos. And that was after he was praised by black leaders for saying cops were wrong to shoot Stansbury.
Neither the contrition of a mayor nor the headlines about a safer New York have done much to soften black people's hard feelings toward the cops. But for a newjack like me, who's passing out of his rebellious twenties and into his staid thirties, they've made all the difference in the world.
Just last week, suspect in hand, they brought my partner in to look at a lineup of possible perps. Shes supposed to try again this week. Maybe the cops actually care about us. More likely, they just want to get the guy.
photo: Cary Conover