Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The city's largest police union rolled out an ad campaign last week to focus on the more heroic aspects of the work cops do. Union officials said Hurricane Sandy presented the NYPD with a unique opportunity to counteract some of negative press over the past year.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association plunked down thousands of dollars on full-page ads in 10 newspapers. In one ad, featuring a photo taken in the Rockaways of an NYPD vehicle passing a massive wave, the caption reads: "New York City Police Officers regularly put themselves between you and danger. It's a dangerous job but we're proud to do it." Union president Patrick Lynch said people need to be reminded that police do more than write tickets. And he said anger at officers for controversial policies like stop and frisk is misdirected.
"I think that anger should be pointed toward the policy and not the police officer," suggested Lynch.
A random sampling of commuters on Atlantic Avenue near the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn was split on whether the public relations move by the union would have any measurable effect.
“With the publicity they’ve been getting with the various shootings in the past weeks, they needed to remind us they’re there to help,” said Brooklynite Loy Hilton. She said she already has faith in law enforcement. “If your house is robbed or evil is after you, you call 9-1-1 and you expect them to turn up.”
Fellow resident Bobby Leray, who happened to be on his way to pay a $295 traffic ticket, disagreed. “They paint a bad picture of themselves to New Yorkers”, he said tersely. “Had they not done that they wouldn’t have to spend that money to try and convince us because we won’t believe them anyway.”
Lynch said that negative stories about men and women wearing the uniform get blown out of proportion. “A NYC police officer has hundreds of interactions with the community and 99.9% of citizens leave satisfied," he said. “If they stop and think about their experience, or Hurricane Sandy and those police officers that waded through the water and carried children to safety, they’ll remember what the force is capable of," observed the PBA President.
The last time the union took out ads related to police performance was more than a year ago for the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.