Today’s Post editorial on the alleged July 30 assault of five young women in the District was disturbing on many levels. That two of the women are self-identified lesbians and were singled out for attack by two thugs is bad enough. That the police didn’t take a report at the scene but days later is disturbing. But the editorial highlights something Police Chief Cathy Lanier said to a gay advocacy group that I find appalling.
The case first came to light in news reports in the area’s gay press. In response, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier issued an Aug. 5 statement saying that she was “appalled” by the incident and that she had ordered an internal investigation that could result in dismissals of police officers if the women’s account proved true. She later told members of the advocacy group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence that she attributed the officers’ actions to “lazy policing.”
The Metropolitan Police Department has 3,800 officers. If seven of them don’t see fit to take a statement at the scene of an alleged assault that certainly says something about their fitness to wear the uniform. But it also says something about the leadership of the department. I called Lanier’s office to talk about this with her and was told she was not available. I was transferred to the public information office and was told to email department spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump with a request. I did. Her out-of-office reply says she’s out until Monday, Aug. 22. Unacceptable.
Call me a New York snob for what I’m about to say. I don’t care. In the 1990s, New Yorkers learned to expect more from the police commissioner and the men and women under his command. Crime was taken seriously. A zero-tolerance posture was taken by the mayor on down the line at NYPD. This mindset definitely had its downside during the Giuliani administration with police brutality cases fraying the tender racial fabric of the city throughout its eight years. But that pro-active posture showed New Yorkers that they didn’t have to put up with the burglaries, rapes, murders and “lazy policing” that had turned the Big Apple into an ungovernable city.
Lanier’s “lazy policing” comment translates to “that’s the way it is.” A rhetorical throwing up of the hands that tries to absolve a failure of leadership. She told the Washington Examiner two weeks ago, “I was appalled when I heard about the incident and the conduct of the officers.” Lanier went on to say, “I have spoken with victims in this case and I want to assure them and the public that the incident and the conduct of the officers are being investigated thoroughly.”
An investigation that will take four months. I’m neither assured nor confident that the “lazy policing” that led to this controversy won’t happen again.