By Representative Michael Grimm
The New York City Police Department's number one priority is to keep New York's citizens safe, while at the same time maintaining the highest standards to ensure that civil rights are protected.
With recent debate over practices such as stop-and-frisk and the latest spike in crime, it's clear that policy decisions matter.
As a former federal law enforcement agent, I know firsthand the importance of having a sound policy framework in which to operate, as bad policy only jeopardizes public safety and opens doors for those who wish to do us harm.
Unfortunately, the latest decisions have resulted in bad policy with dangerous consequences that have and will continue to result in an increase in crime, making our neighborhoods more dangerous for all of us.
Recently, the NYPD policy regarding stop-and-frisk was changed as a result of severe criticism and pressure from civil rights groups, resulting in a 34-percent reduction in the use of such a technique.
Crime, however, has increased by more than 12 percent and our streets are more dangerous now than last year. Policy matters!
Additionally, the New York City Law Department's Corporation Counsel has recently ruled that an NYPD Deputy Inspector from Staten Island will not be afforded a city lawyer or indemnification for utilizing pepper spray during the Occupy Wall Street debacle.
Again, a bad policy decision and, more importantly, a bad consequence: Cops will likely be more hesitant and reluctant to engage a criminal because of the fear that he or she will be second guessed and ultimately held personally responsible.
The men and woman of the NYPD go to work every day knowing that they will be in harm's way, and they are highly trained to act in a variety of dangerous situations. They often must evaluate and react in seconds which could be the difference between life or death -- for themselves or the public they are protecting at the scene of the crime.
Unfortunately, due to poor policy, our officers may be put in a position to weigh their personal liability with less, not more, effective techniques given by the NYPD to protect our communities.
My experience is that the overwhelming majority of the NYPD puts public safety and the rule of law above anything else.
When these officers act within the parameters of the tools and training provided to them, it is important that we stand with them.
This is simply good policy. Furthermore, the parameters of effective practices like stop-and-frisk must be clearly defined, as should the consequences of going beyond them. This is also good policy.
Should we continue down this path, then I predict that crime will continue to rise.
We, along with our officers, will be less and less safe and those looking to do us harm will be the ultimate beneficiaries of poor policy decisions.
[The writer represents New York's 13 Congressional District (Staten Island and southeast Brooklyn) in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served over a decade in the FBI.]