Vigilant police officer shot; vigilant policing under assault

A plainclothes New York City police officer was shot in the face in Queens yesterday when an ex-con opened fire into his unmarked patrol car, the New York Post reports. According to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, the police officer, Brian Moore, and his partner were on patrol when they spotted the suspect “adjusting an object in his waistband.” When they pulled up and tried to question the suspect, he pulled out a gun and fired at least two rounds into Moore’s car.

Moore is the fifth NYPD officer who has been shot since December. He is in stable but critical condition.

The man accused of firing the shots is Demetrius Blackwell. He has nine prior arrests, including two separate assaults on police officers, according to the Post’s sources. He served a prison sentence for attempted murder after firing shots into a car during a robbery. At the time Moore attempted to question Blackwell, he was subject to an outstanding warrant for criminal mischief.

Moore didn’t know about Blackwell’s prior arrests or the outstanding warrant. But he knew based on what he saw — the adjustment of an object in Blackwell’s waistband — that Blackwell should be questioned.

Similarly, Darren Wilson didn’t know at first that Michael Brown had robbed a convenience store. But he thought, correctly, that something was amiss from the way Brown was behaving.

I believe that, based on the same kind of sixth sense, the officers who ran down Freddie Gray after making eye contact with him thought that he was in the area, where drug deals frequently take place, for an illicit purpose. There’s a good chance that they, like officers Moore and Wilson, were correct.

This doesn’t excuse their treatment of Gray. My point is that this trilogy of police interaction with suspects — each of which ended in tragedy — does not support the claim that police officers are generating encounters with random bystanders for purposes of harassment. Rather, the initial interactions represent proper policing.

As Abe Greenwald puts it:

[V]igil[a]nt police work is. . .picking out what’s subtly wrong on the street and getting to the bottom of it. It’s also what. . .would wrongly be called racist harassment.

The. . .overwhelming majority of cops — good, smart, brave cops — don’t harass blacks for sport. They don’t harass period. They act on hunches and experience and put their lives on the line over the slightest irregularity to prevent civilian deaths, both black and white.

Demetrius Blackwell had an outstanding warrant, a loaded gun, and a propensity for shooting into car windows. Michael Brown had just robbed a store. Freddie Gray had a criminal record and, quite likely, was looking to make a drug deal.

In each instance, the officer would have fared better personally had he turned a blind eye to the irregular behavior. But is this what we want to the police to do?

From all that appears, it’s what many of the anti-police protesters and their leftist sympathizers want. That this is a recipe for rampant lawlessness seems to leave them unfazed.

The rest of us need to understand that, at root, the hard left is attacking vigilant policing — and in some cases, any policing at all — not harassment.

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