New York, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) officers made 1,319 fewer arrests and issued 474 fewer summonses in the week after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was fired than they did during the same week in 2018.
Law enforcement sources told the New York Post that the slowdown was a result of the “Pantaleo Effect.”
“Who wants to be the last cop standing?” a Manhattan officer asked. “If someone’s in trouble and needs help or if a cop’s in trouble, obviously, you do what you have to do as a police officer. But if it’s discretionary, why put yourself in harm’s way?’’
Tensions are high between the department’s administration and the rank-and-file in the wake of NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill’s decision to terminate Officer Pantaleo for his role in the arrest of Eric Garner five years ago.
In response, the PBA put out a list of guidelines for officers to follow in order to keep them out of trouble.
Union leadership said it had become obvious the officers did not have support from Commissioner O’Neill and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Be advised that neither your Police Academy training nor the current Patrol Guide procedures reflect the precedent established by this decision,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch wrote in the memo, a copy of which has been obtained by Blue Lives Matter.
Lynch warned that Commissioner O’Neill’s termination of Officer Pantaleo set a dangerous precedent and “fundamentally changed the nature of our job” when he allowed politics to determine Officer Pantaleo’s fate without regard for the fact.
The memo encouraged officers to “uphold our oath” and continue doing their jobs but reminded them “we must remain united to protect each other from the toxic political environment in which we are forced to work.”
On the day Officer Pantaleo was fired, the PBA accused Commissioner O’Neill of rolling over for City Hall and doing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bidding.
In order to be in exact compliance with the patrol guide, officers will have to do a lot of things in a specified way that, in the past, was unofficially left to officers’ discretion.
For example, officers are supposed to get permission from a supervisor to make an arrest and call in the SWAT team any time a suspect resists arrest, according to NYPD official policy.
NYPD sources predicted that following the rules closely would cause a slowdown in officers’ response times to emergency calls because going by the book would make everything take twice as long to do.
The New York Post reported arrests dropped by 27 percent between Aug. 19, the day Officer Pantaleo was fired, and Aug. 25, as compared to the same period last year.
The number of criminal summonses issued by NYPD officers dropped 29 percent compared to 2018 during the same seven days.
A Bronx officer told the New York Post that officers were taking longer with their calls to stay out of trouble but that it wasn’t an organized slowdown.
“They want to be more careful. They have to protect themselves because no one else is going to protect them,’’ he said.
An NYPD official told Blue Lives Matter that he wouldn’t be shocked if some of the reduced numbers could be attributed to the “Pantaleo Effect” but said that to look at one week and come to that conclusion was premature.
He said a number of factors could have played a significant factor, including how many calls officers responded to that were must-arrest offenses like domestic violence.
“Guys aren’t going to risk their jobs letting someone go who beat the s--t out of his wife,” the official said. “But for calls where they have the discretion to not make an arrest… you’re going to see that affect the numbers.”
On Friday, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan urged officers to ignore the union’s guidance and continue doing their jobs as usual.
“This is not the time that we back down, that we walk away from doing our job. Doing what we do in this city to keep people safe,” Chief Monahan said.