Advocates of defunding police should be thanking New York’s finest today, for the gift of the perfect reason why blindly funding cops is a terrible idea.
The NYPD has apparently been caught doing a very bad thing with public money, namely tricking people who haven’t been charged with a crime into leaving behind traces of their DNA, then stealing their DNA and keeping it in a secret database. They’re now being sued for it by the Legal Aid Society on behalf of multiple people who allege that’s exactly what happened to them.
That includes people like Shakaria Leslie, who the New York Times reports had her genetic material taken off a cup she used when cops offered her water during an interrogation.
From the NY Times
Her DNA was entered into a city database that contains tens of thousands of profiles, and her lawyers say it remained there, even though that night three years ago is the only time she has ever been arrested.
Ms. Leslie is a plaintiff in a federal class-action lawsuit filed late Monday by the Legal Aid Society, which accuses the city of operating an illegal and unregulated DNA database in violation of state law and constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
The suit calls for DNA profiles that lawyers argue were gathered unlawfully to be expunged and for the database to be shut down entirely.
“Thousands of New Yorkers, most of whom are Black and brown, and many of whom have never been convicted of any crime, are illegally in the city’s rogue DNA database,” Phil Desgranges, a lawyer in the Special Litigation Unit at Legal Aid, said in a statement.
The NYPD has allegedly done this to more than 31,000 people. They did it with public money that they might not have had if a sensible policy of defunding had been pursued. It wasn’t, so not only did the cops do this with public cash, they did it without the public’s knowledge.
It’s a sin and a damn shame.
While we’re here, let’s check on where the rhetoric around defunding stands. Despite conservatives’ whining that defunding is making communities less safe and that Democrats largely support it, there’s exactly zero evidence to support that. Police departments across the country, many in big cities with Democrats for mayors, are getting millions more in funding now than they were in 2020 when protests over police violence brought the defund proposition into public view. The NYPD got $200 million extra, but crime is still skyrocketing.
When she was questioned about why her city spends more on cops than social programs during a community forum this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, smacked down the idea of trimming the police’s budget, according to the Triibe.
From the Triibe
Hone took a deep breath and stated that there were many questions pertaining to defunding the police. She asked city officials how they were committed to preventative measures for violence when CPD receives more funding than housing and education combined.
“I fundamentally reject defunding the police,” Lightfoot stammered. “There are only three ways for Black and brown people to assuredly walk into the middle class – fire, cops, teachers.” A community resident yelled out sardonically, “Not teachers!”
Lightfoot doubled down on her conviction, adding that Black people should be taking advantage of these opportunities.
And who can forget what President Joe Biden said about defunding during his State of the Union address? “We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training.”
But cops already have all the resources they need to get all the training they could ever want. What they don’t have is anyone in government, of either party, willing to hold them accountable when they break the law, either by killing someone or by stealing tens of thousands of people’s DNA.
Calls to defund police are about using public policy to demand exactly that kind accountability, not about hating of cops or wanting police or the public to be less safe. Public safety isn’t created by the nearly $1.5 billion in public funds wasted on police misconduct settlements, as tallied by the Washington Post’s reporting (and because cops like to hide such things, the number is likely higher). It’s also not created by tricking thirsty people into sipping off a water bottle under duress so a cop can swab it later.