Anger Management for the 112th Precinct

November 25, 2007 at 8:28 pm 1 comment

Several recent incidents have sensitized me to a strain of verbally abusive behavior in our local police forced. These are above and beyond the usual impersonal-bordering-on-hostile attitude you experience when you are pulled over for, say, not wearing your seatbelt or speeding. I’ll describe one and let you be the judge.

On the day before Thanksgiving, at around 5:15, the streets of Forest Hills were packed with cars and pedestrians heading home to start the holiday weekend. As I made a left turn on to 108 St., I heard a siren, but because of the Doppler effect, I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Once on 108 St., I saw the police car in the opposite lane behind four cars, waiting for the light to turn green. Suddenly, the police car swung out of line and into my lane. I swerved to the right to give the car some space to pass, but not so much that I would do damage to my right side by hitting parked cars. As the police car passed by me, the driver’s side window was open and the cop, holding a cigarette, looked at me with rage and said, “You stupid, f—ing b–ch.” I don’t know which bothered me more—his racing to a scene of crime with only one hand on the wheel or his flagrant lapse of courtesy, professionalism, and respect.

As soon as I got home, I called the precinct to complain but the line was busy. The next day, Thanksgiving, I walked over to Austin and Yellowstone to the precinct. It was quiet there, a good time to report a non-emergency incident. Alas, the police officer on duty was absolutely no help, even though I gave a detailed description of the foul-mouthed cop (I was secretly hoping he would show me photographs of all of the FH force) and I knew exactly where and when it had happened. But I guess I had reached the proverbial blue line. The officer handed me a form to fill out, which we both knew would amount to nothing since I didn’t have the name of the cop and no one there was going to help me out on that score.

To put this into some context: The 2000 Public Satisfaction Survey prepared for the New York City Council reported that:

In 1997, the Police Department instituted its strategy of Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect (CPR) to address how police interact with members of the community. Today, less than half of New Yorkers (47%) believe that police officers treat people with courtesy, professionalism, and respect at least most of the time. Even fewer Blacks (31%) and Hispanics (41%) see CPR as standard operating procedure for the NYPD. More than a quarter of all New Yorkers (28%) say they or someone close to them have been treated disrespectfully by the police in the past five years. Furthermore, Blacks are significantly more likely to say this (39% compared to 27% of Hispanics and 23% of Whites).

So it’s not just me and it’s not just Forest Hills. In 2006 there were 3,807 civilian complaints, which represents a 47% increase in the past five years. It’s the kind of thing you don’t think about until it hits you in the face. Now that I’ve been hit, I’m thinking about it a lot.


Entry filed under: community, Forest Hills.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  October 20, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Yes. Police profession and reputation is not match their title authority.


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