New York City

Amid record low crime rates, SBA imagines a lawless hellscape

Why isn’t the sergeants union trying to take credit for New York City’s safety?

A NYPD officer.

A NYPD officer. Drop of Light/Shutterstock

Police officers are paid to prevent crime and if you look at the statistics, New York City’s seem to be doing a great job. All major crimes are at or near record lows. Fewer New Yorkers are being killed than at any time since the 1950s. True to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s claim, it’s the safest big city in America.

So why is a police union working overtime to promote the idea that New York City is a lawless hellscape?

In just the past month, the Sergeants Benevolent Association has repeatedly questioned the veracity of crime stats, misrepresented the nature of statistics in general, constantly posted crime blotter-style tweets and claimed that “NYC & State are heading to a full time PURGE” – presumably a reference to the movie series depicting one night a year where all crime is made legal.

The SBA’s tweets have one primary target: de Blasio. “De Blasio is the antichrist to most of the cops at this point,” said John Jay College of Criminal Justice lecturer Eugene O’Donnell. Any messages about the lack of safety in the city are meant to be a rebuke of the mayor and his policies, explained O’Donnell, himself a former NYPD officer. Police unions have long pushed narratives of the city as a dangerous place. One might think that cops would want to broadcast that they’re doing well at keeping the streets safe. But highlighting danger may actually serve their political purposes, by demonstrating the need for cops to “slay the dragon” and protect the populace, O’Donnell said. 

Whether or not the statistics back that up is beside the point. “You’ve got to shout to be heard. You can’t be heard in this conversation with rational arguments,” O’Donnell said.

That “conversation” includes critics of the police who say that “the NYPD is like a death squad” – arguments that O’Donnell called “completely absurd” but “extraordinarily effective.” One way the union responds is by emphasizing the dangerous situations cops walk into every day.

The SBA represents more than 13,000 current and former sergeants in the NYPD, a step up in rank from those represented by the larger union, the Police Benevolent Association. The PBA has a higher profile, but the SBA has a long history of inflammatory online conduct. In May, the SBA bizarrely protested congestion pricing by tweeting video of two people performing a sex act on a subway platform. Many tweets are riddled with misspellings, including the names of two prominent black women, Bronx District Attorney “Darrel Clarke” (Darcel Clark) and First Lady “Charlene” (Chirlane McCray). In August, SBA President Ed Mullins told members to “pay close attention to every word” of an overtly racist video before claiming he hadn’t listened to it.

Mullins and the SBA did not respond to a request for comment. It’s not clear whether one person or multiple people run the Twitter account, but they appear to be a fan of President Donald Trump, once sending a tweet crediting the “PATRIOT” Trump with rebuilding New York City in the “70s,80s,90s.”

Mullins has been likened to Trump before, and O’Donnell said that union leadership’s pro-Trump cheerleading isn’t smart in a New York City where most people are deeply anti-Trump.

“He’s out of step with most of the city politically,” O’Donnell said of Mullins. “And I don’t think that helps him or his members.”

New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres was quick to agree. “The SBA functions more as a rightwing retrograde advocacy organization than as a traditional labor union,” he told City & State. “It does an enormous disservice to its members.”

UPDATE: After this story was published, the SBA emailed a statement from Mullins:

"The members of the Sergeants Benevolent Association – the diverse union representing the rank where policy becomes policing – are daily witnesses to the accelerating decline in New York City’s safety and livability. Contrary to the mayor’s political statistics, our daily experience is of an increasing culture of lawlessness – frequent shoot-outs in neighborhoods and violence on train platforms, increases in sexual assaults and harassment, increases in hate crimes and anti-Semitic violence, increases in so-called ‘minor crimes’ against students and the elderly, and obvious increases in aggressive panhandling, public urination, fare evasion, threatening language and physical intimidation.

Increases in crime should not be surprising when the mayor and his permanent campaign team have fiddled with national politics instead of aggressively addressing issues here at home. Has there ever been a mayor of New York City so clearly unhappy about doing the job he was elected to? Has there ever been a mayor of New York City who so quickly lost interest in governing? Homelessness, assaults on police, crimes against the elderly, crisis conditions in NYCHA, increases in sex crimes, gang violence – all of these are a result of a warped political establishment that prioritizes appearances and social media posts over the hard work of governing. A selfish culture of 'anything goes' has infected city politics –  starting with the mayor – with nobody willing to insist on a basic level of shared civility or common sense."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.