The news: It hasn't been a good PR week for the nation's finest. First, the sheriff's deputy from Knoxville, Tennessee, choked an unresisting college student until he passed out. And then the disturbing video of Buffalo cops beating up a suspect who was lying on the ground in handcuffs came out.
But if any police department were to take the cake, it would definitely be the NYPD — which had no less than three different officers getting drunk and shooting people in one week.
Case #1: Last Thursday, two NYPD detectives were heading out to investigate a robbery, then decided that they should grab a drink first. They each ended up downing "at least 11" beers over four hours. It's not clear what exactly happened, but one of the detectives — who blew a .113 BAC — ended up shooting the other in the wrist. He also got a DWI while driving his partner to the hospital and was charged with assault. The victim has received two surgeries, and it is not clear whether he will ever be able to fire a weapon again.
Case #2: This story is worse. Before midnight on Tuesday, a city cop got plastered with his colleagues and shot a stranger who pulled up next to his car — for no apparent reason. The officer shot 13 times, hitting the victim six times. The night took an even scarier turn when cops came to arrest him, and the officer — who was too drunk to even remember shooting someone — pulled his gun. Eventually, the standoff ended and the shooter was arrested. The victim is in stable condition.
Case #3: This story has a motive — and it's a doozy. Early Wednesday morning, a Staten Island cop went to her date's home in Watchung, New Jersey, and ended up confronting the man's wife. The officer discharged her weapon from the driveway, hitting the parked car. She fled the scene and was eventually apprehended by the local police and has been charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, a second-degree crime, and fourth-degree aggravated assault. And oh yeah, she was drunk.
It's not a good look for the NYPD. The department has been battling its image problem in a very high-profile way. In one 27-hour span in April, three different cops ended up getting DWIs — in addition to "one reckless driving charge and one accident followed by a refused Breathalyzer."
"We're very concerned with a number of reports," said NYPD police commissioner Bill Bratton. "I, personally, am very disturbed about the number of incidents in recent weeks that are part of a longer-term problem of inappropriate use of alcohol by members of our department."
But it's not just a drinking problem. As the #myNYPD Twitter fiasco showed, a lot of people are unhappy with the NYPD's alleged police brutality. And at a time when a grainy video can turn a police beating into a viral outrage, and half of Americans say they mistrust police conduct, the NYPD really should be stepping up its accountability and responsiveness — and not going on blind-drunk shooting rampages. How can people trust the police to do their job when they are the ones going around shooting at civilians?