Newton’s Big Apple

You remember Isaac Newton, the genius who expounded on the principle of gravity after an apple dropped on his head while he sat under a tree. Newton was responsible for theorizing three Laws of mechanics, the third of which was that for every action, there is an equal, but opposite, re-action.

That principle received recent confirmation from the recent controversies broiling and bubbling around the death of Patrick Dorismond at the hands of the N.Y.P.D.

The controversy actually had its beginnings about 1992 (long before Our Heroes came on the scene) when the substantial diminution of crime – estimated to be 25 to 30 % less – started across the length and breadth of the United States. Since then, various and sundry politicians, in various and sundry isolated localities, have eagerly claimed direct credit for the reduction of crime in their bailiwick (I promise I won’t mention Our Heroes again).

A black N.Y.P.D. Detective, recently being interviewed in connection with the conflicts of racism and bigotry swirling within the ranks of the N.Y.P.D. brought Isaac Newton and his Third Law to mind. The Detective said that with the diminution of crime, there are less occasions for arrests, and, therefore, less for police personnel to do. That makes sense, of course. The less crime, the less police intervention required. You must also factor into this equation that during this same period, the number of police officers has not diminished; if anything, it has increased.

It stands to reason, therefore, that statistically, the productivity per capita of police forces must necessarily have fallen in direct proportion to the diminution of crime.

Something extraordinary occurred however. The interviewed black detective I mentioned above said that the N.Y.P.D. quota of ‘collars, collars, collars’ has not been permitted to diminish, in order to continue the appearance of pro-active crime fighting. There emphasis for police personnel to keep up the number of arrests, drug arrests, street crime arrests, any kind of arrests, has resulted in a raft of police busy work, Mickey Mouse arrests, which create the desired appearance of accomplishment in the precinct houses, but which results in an almost equal flush of baseless cases out of the back doors of the courthouse.

Apparently, this need to maintain the hollow sound and appearance of police productivity is necessary lest a belt and suspenders bean counter begins to apply concepts of modern economy to the N.Y.P.D.: where a major reduction of demand for service occurs (reduction of crime), at least a proportionate reduction of the service force (the police) must also occur. Any semi-awake management person would apply such obvious economic principles to any business for which he was responsible – unless, of course, they were politicians who wanted to maintain the appearance of a continuing vital and robust crime fighting ability for reasons other than efficiency. Let’s say a politician running for office wanted to keep alive the concept of being an active crime fighter struggling mightily against no-longer-valid crime statistics of yesteryear. This is all very interesting, except when you get to the part that the funds to pay the police bill do not come out of the one-way personal pockets of the candidates.

But how, you ask, does Newton’s Third Law apply to the recent Dorismond shooting? Rather logically. Members of the N.Y.P.D. Street Crimes Unit were scattered into ‘high-crime’ areas – which should now be called the not-so-high crime areas – to effect drug arrest statistics (Operation Condor). The undercover officers, facing lower crime rates, encourage and cajole members of a dormant public to do something illegal that might result in arrest. That pro-active police tactic brought the police into direct confrontation with a civilian who had no actual or even perceived intention to commit a crime (Dorismond). His opposing re-action in rebuffing the police need for an arrest resulted in Dorismond’s death.

The action-reaction principle doesn’t stop there. As a result of Dorismond’s death, a great portion of the public has reacted negatively to the over-zealous employment of deadly unconstitutional mayhem by the police. In turn, some N.Y.P.D. personnel (the Gung-Ho) are confused and frustrated. Having been recruited and urged to militaristic frenzy by their leaders, they feel betrayed by the under-appreciation of their efforts by the public. In counter-action, some police personnel are engaging in a petulant pull-back of effort.

Do you see Newton’s principle operating classically here? Less crime results in less work for the police, which results in efforts to scare up crime, which results in artificial instigation of criminal activity, which results in individual re-action against aggressive police work, which results in public anti-police antagonism, which results in the negative reaction of the police to the negative reaction of the public.

SWAT team mentality has just snapped back into the face of those (I promised I wouldn’t mention Our Heroes) who rode to power on themes of crush all those perceived as rotten apples. The stompers have just slipped on the apple peels. Newton, you clever bastard, you’re still alive and well.