Property Grunt

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My side, your side and the truth.

By now most us of have seen footage of the police officer in Times Square, tackling a lone cyclist. For those of you have not seen it. Here it is.

Just from this footage alone, it would be an understatement to say what the police officer did was completely unjustifiable. The cyclist was making every effort to avoid hitting him. As for the assault charge, I really don't see it. All there is the officer pushing the cyclist and the cyclist meeting the pavement. This is clearly an example of excessive force.

However, I am not yet inclined to join the teeming millions for the officer's head. Was there something that the cyclist was doing to justify the actions of the officer? Maybe the cyclist was a danger to others. Maybe the cyclist did something that was not caught on tape which provoked the officer into action.

Pardon the pun but this is not a cop out. There needs to a thorough investigation to determine whether this use of force was justified or excessive. I have a tremendous sense of outrage of those who are figures of authority and abuse their power. But I also have a greater contempt for any actions that lead to an innocent man being falsely accused.

I am all for critical mass and cycling. But as far as I am concerned just because someone is on a bicycle does not make them a saint. Like a lot of you I have had way too many close calls with cyclists. Whether they are food delivery guys or messengers, I have had moments where I think I will have a collision with these maniacs.

Just last night, I was with a friend in the east village and while crossing the street we were nearly nailed by a hipster chick going full speed on her schwinn. We were going south and she was coming from the east. Even when I made eye contact with her, she kept on going. It was our job to get out of her way.

All I know is that if she had touched us, I would have ran after her and used every legal power at my disposal to detain her for the cops.

That sort of thing pisses me off. And I have no doubt there are some riders of critical mass who like to play wild in the streets. That is just unacceptable for any group to act like that.

However I have a solution for the NYPD that if applied properly could lower the rate of these incidents if not eliminate them completely.

First of all they should disperse units of bicycle cops to accompany critical mass. The jobs of these officers would to ensure that these riders are following the letter of the law and most importantly they ensure riders maintain a proper rate of speed so they do not mow any one down.

The second thing they should is set up check points during the route to periodically stop the riders. At these check points, the police would inspect bicycles to see that they are up to code. They would also check if riders are the wearing the proper equipment. They should also have a bunch of police officers taping the whole thing with their video cameras for evidence purposes.

Here's the beauty of the check points. First of all it breaks up the rhythm of critical mass and prevents riders from getting a rapid pace. The check points also serve as a very lucrative profit center for the city. If you look at those videos, a a lot of those riders are not wearing helmets. Some of those riders are either lacking the proper reflectors or other equipment to operate their bicycles. On those grounds, police officers can carpet bomb them with tickets which becomes a major source of revenue for the city.

Now let's take this further into the realm of the hypothetical, when you combine adrenaline, a free spirit and the authorities fining people for what appear to be minor infractions, you are going to get a lot of tension. People blow their tops off over a parking ticket. Can you imagine how a rider of critical mass will feel about this? And if they are stupid and let their emotions carry them, they may initiate some type of action that would result in their incarceration. Which would leave the police officer completely justified in their actions.

If I sound a bit fascist, I'm not. I was raised to respect law and order. I also learned from my personal experience that when a large gathering of police officers are amassing in one direction, then you should go in the opposite direction. I am just exercising common sense here.

Each incident where a police officer is accused of excessive force is more money for lawyers and the courts. Money that could be used for education, children in need and other social ills. These types of incidents can easily be avoided through creative thinking and proper understanding of the law without compromising law and order.