It’s not about funding – it’s about having the will to fix the problems we foist on our police

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It’s a Christmas miracle. The editorial board of the New York Post and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agree on something.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton posted a photo to Twitter of an E-train car at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue occupied by presumably homeless people, covered in blankets, their possessions scattered across the seats and floor. “Imagine the cops’ frustration with no support to deal with it!” Bratton wrote.

“Of course they’re frustrated,” AOC rightly responded. “It’s not policing’s job or purpose to address housing, provide healthcare or counseling, or solve the reasons people sleep on the subway.”

But even miracles have limits. AOC undermined her insight with the next line: “Maybe if we shifted some of that $11B/year spent on robo dogs to housing services we could get somewhere.”

Ah, yes, if only we defunded the police. Never mind that the city spends roughly $2 billion a year on homeless services, not counting the millions, millions more spent on other outreach services. The problem is not money. The problem is Mayor de Blasio took Steven Banks, a man who spent his career suing the city over people being forced to take shelter, and put him in charge.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton helped former Mayor Rudy Giuliani with solving the Big Apple’s homelessness problem in the 1990s.
William Farrington

The tragedy of Eudes Pierre

Ever witnessed the rare occasion when a homeless-outreach person talks to someone on the street? “I can take you some place warm and give you a meal,” the city employee says. The person sleeping on the sidewalk refuses. This is where they take their drugs. Overnight homeless shelters don’t let you drink alcohol. They are mentally ill. They think it’s unsafe inside, because others there are mentally ill. The outreach coordinator nods understandingly . . . and leaves the person sleeping on the street.

Under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, there was a policy of “you can’t sleep here.” We spend millions on shelters, services, programs, but if you tell people they still have the option to live on the subway, or Penn Station, a good number — because they aren’t in their right mind due to mental illness or drug dependency — will stay there. Whatever the advocates say, this isn’t compassion.

Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bill Bratton got into a Twitter war of words over the NYPD’s role in helping the homeless, in response to a viral tweet from the former police commissioner showing people sleeping aboard a subway train.
Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is right to point out that New Yorkers and tourists should not be witnessing hundreds of homeless people on the subway.
Twitter / @CommissBratton

Which brings us to the tragic case of Eudes Pierre. In June of 2019, Pierre attempted to jump out a window. Police responded and stopped him. In October 2020, he stabbed himself in the stomach. Police responded and saved him. The 26-year-old’s mental-health struggles were well known.

Then, on Monday, someone called the police saying Pierre had a knife and a gun. The NYPD responded. Pierre fled onto the subway, putting riders at risk. In one hand was a knife, the other was in his pocket — he didn’t have a gun, but officers didn’t know that. The cops’ Tasers failed to penetrate Pierre’s winter coat. He lunged at officers with the knife and was killed.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just like the Big Apple’s progressive Democrats, offer no solution to helping out the homeless and mentally ill.
Getty Images

The case “underscores the need for alternatives to having the police respond to mental-health episodes,” The New York Times notes, and, hallelujah, we agree with them, too.

But much like AOC, the Times leaves the rest unspoken.

Bill de Blasio spent a whopping $850 million a year on his wife Chirlane’s mental-health program, ThriveNYC. What did they do here? Did they try to treat Pierre after his first attempt on his life? After his second? If Eudes Pierre was taken to a mental-health hospital and treated with medication, we can tell you what happened in other cases. People were sent home feeling better. They decided not to medicate, and no one stopped them. And the cycle continued.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio has done nothing but dump millions of dollars into his wife’s useless ThriveNYC project – with nothing to show for it.
Robert Miller

Like the mentally ill person who “decides” to live on the subway, the city takes their word for it. They accept the decisions of people whose illness means they don’t know better.

The wrong response

We ask far too much of police officers, of that we all agree. They put their lives on the line. They face impossible situations. They try to make the city better. A merry Christmas to all of them.

Yet rather than rethink how we are handling the homeless and mentally ill, the liberal-advocate response is: Take more money from the cops!

New York City Mayor elect Eric Adams
Mayor-elect Eric Adams has to stop Hizzoner’s ludicrous spending and start devoting resources to helping the city’s mentally ill.
Steve Sanchez/Sipa USA

It’s naive, and it’s wrong. All the money in the world (and, trust us, de Blasio had it and spent it) won’t make a damn difference if we aren’t more proactive, more forceful. Eric Adams, a former NYPD cop, knows this better than most. It is perhaps the most important job he faces when he becomes mayor a week from today.

We live in a city run by a Democratic mayor and a Democratic City Council, overseen by a Democratic state government and Democratic governor, abetted by a network of liberal social services funded by liberal billionaires. If the system failed Eudes Pierre and the people on that subway train, and it did, liberals have no one to blame but themselves. Stop complaining about it and come up with a better way.

NYPD robot at barricade situation at 344 east 28 street in Manhattan
The NYPD’s “robo dog” project could offer a safer way for officers to confront hostile suspects.
Peter Gerber

One last thing: The “robo dog” was a $94,000 pilot program; it in no way impacted the city’s spending on homelessness or anything else. You know what it was meant to do? Be a nonlethal, nonhuman tool to go into a dangerous situation — say, a dark apartment where a man was holding a gun — and figure out where things stand. In short: It aimed to prevent shootings of officers and suspects. When you reject such efforts, it makes us wonder if you really want to make things better, or if you just want to hate.

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