Vallone right on need for more officers
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 31, 2012 | 13785 views | 0 0 comments | 455 455 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg cites the city’s drop in crime over the last ten years as a reason to keep the police force at its current levels, he makes a valid point.

The force is doing a great job with fewer in their ranks. The cost of 5,000 more police officers (followed by 5,000 more pensions) can come with a giant cost. But the cost that a rise in crime would bring is also very expensive.

Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. of Astoria has been an outspoken advocate for increasing the police force, and he is right.

What we have now is an entire adult generation that does not remember what high crime in this city looked like. The muggings, the graffiti on the subways, and a 42nd Street that was not the home of the ESPN Zone, but rather the home of…well, nevermind.

We have a generation of successful New Yorkers who do not know how fast things can go from good to ugly. Vallone remembers this, however, and he wants to avoid having to add police on the back end as a result of a spike in crime.

Do you add police as a response to higher crime or do you add to the force as a preventative measure? It is a fair question, but if you are in your 40s, you might take the latter.

Would more police equal safer streets? Maybe it would not, but the City Council and the mayor should consider a middle ground. Perhaps 5,000 new officers would be a bit much, but what about 2,500 added over three years? And what if those added police focused on gang intelligence?

The recent shootings in the city are an important problem, and they should open our eyes to the reality that gang violence is no longer a Los Angeles problem.

The NYPD does yeoman’s work in keeping crime down, all while looking out for terrorist activity in the subways and elsewhere. They are spread very thin, and it would be smart to add some officers to the ranks to work in specialized areas.

The mayor is right, crime in the last ten years has been down, but we need to focus on the next ten years. We should applaud the mayor for trying to keep the government payroll small, but this increase is worth it.

A new mayor is going to need as much muscle as possible, and if the city can find a small compromise with a few new officers that focus on a few specific areas, then the transition should be fine for keeping our crime rate on the decline.

The Price of Endorsements

The mania that leads up to political endorsements needs to go away on a local level. In races like the one to replace Grace Meng in the Assembly’s 22nd District, it might be better if incumbents allowed candidates and voters to sift through who they think is best in primaries and general elections without giving their official endorsement.

The immediate advantage to being endorsed is that a lesser-known candidate can get some quick name recognition, but the situation can set up a system of favors or cronyism. Popular incumbents get to cash in on political capital when they are sought out for endorsements, but that muddies the political water.

Peter Koo, the Republican-turned-Democrat councilman is relatively popular in his district. His endorsement is important in the race to replace Meng, since – although he is not a member of the State Legislature – he has credibility with voters in Flushing.

Would the process be worse off if incumbents simply refrained from formally endorsing candidates? The news that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leaning toward Councilwoman Christine Quinn in her mayoral bid is a big deal – especially in Manhattan.

The mayor does not have to endorse a replacement candidate, the same way he did not endorse a presidential candidate in 2008. Quinn and the other candidates could run effective campaigns without a stamp of approval from City Hall.

One could argue that an incumbent knows the job and his or her opinion matters a whole lot. But if that were the case, why do outgoing presidents not endorse candidates in the primaries?

It is one thing to attend fundraisers and even share donor lists, but a formal endorsement can tie a potential public official to another public official. The endorsement game is not killing our politics, but it also isn’t necessary.
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