A consent order was signed between the city of Niagara Falls and the New York State Attorney General that mandates hiring a private consulting firm to monitor the behavior of police in this city.
Its genesis apparently came from some 30 citizen complaints alleging that Niagara Falls police officers engaged in behavior the Attorney General's office said suggested a pattern of "excessive use of force primarily against African-American residents."
From the start, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster expressed his eager "willingness to cooperate," as he said, "to reform the (police to) prevent and remedy excessive force and race discrimination."
The inside story is far different from what Dyster led the public to believe.
To be sure, there were 30 complaints. Many of these, police sources said, came from rough and abusive criminals who claimed the police were too rough and abusive to them.
In most cases, the allegations -- and, in effect, smears -- against the police never had a chance to be disproven, mainly because Dyster did not stick up for the police, but jumped to sign the consent order, thus validating criminals' allegations against police.
It will cost us dearly.
Dyster claims the monitoring contract with the Rochester firm Warshaw and Associates, hired to "improve" our police at $200 per hour -- plus meals, hotels and incidentals --will cost the city only $57,000, the estimated cost for three months. Monitoring, however, is slated to continue for three years, and billing may wind up closer to $600,000 by the time the contract is concluded.
Everyone has an opinion.
Mine is that the police force in Niagara Falls is not racist.
For its size and challenges, there are perhaps none better at protecting citizens from a cadre of ruthless men inhabiting this city who are willing to harm, maim and kill people, often in the pursuit of selling drugs to children and young adults.
The fact of the infrequency of the use of deadly force, the lack of fatalities, the absence of wrongful deaths, the rarity of declared wrongful serious injuries in spite of the high incidence of crime here is the best evidence anyone could demand that this is a first-class police force.
Although it is not politically correct to say, most of the crime in this city is committed by a relatively small group of people, members of about 20 extended families. Instead of defending the police against the broad brush of racism, however, Dyster leapt to the consent order.
Nowhere did Dyster ever say, "Hold on, Mr. Attorney General, look at the crime we're faced with, look at who commits crimes. Many of these allegations of brutality are exaggerated, used as tools to help the guilty go free."
Since the consent order -- a masterpiece of political correctness at its worst -- was signed seven months ago, crime is up. Perhaps it is a coincidence.
The police know -- and I do not say it is cause and effect -- they are going to be second-guessed and have to be careful not to use force, even in a deadly situation when trying to prevent violent crime, if it is committed by a miscreant who happens to be black.
Before the politically correct maniacs start screaming, I want to add that I do not believe it is the constitutional nature of young black men to commit crime because they are black. There is poverty. There are the effects of racism.
Nevertheless, crime must be stopped, regardless of who commits it.
Pine Avenue businesses people, and indeed people from all over the city, are clamoring to end the crime, stop the shootings.
Dyster has been dodging the issue. He is afraid of losing the election. He's afraid of not being politically correct. He's afraid of losing the black vote. As the city slides into a vicious cycle of street crime and shootings,
Dyster pops up and calls for full compliance with the state Attorney General to make sure the police don't violate the rights of suspected criminals -- if they are black.
He should have fought the order, since it besmirches the police and indirectly aids and abets criminal enterprise in this city.
Answering a police call in the smallest town is dangerous enough, but in a crime-ridden and economically struggling city such as Niagara Falls rolling up on the most routine of calls can quickly become a life-threatening experience.
When you respond to a burglary in progress at 2 a.m. or race to a report of shots fired, does it help to have lawyers and bureaucrats second-guessing what you did and why you did it?
The last thing you want hanging over your head while your life is on the line is the knowledge that your every move is going to be judged by Dyster, Albany lawyers and Monday-morning quarterbacks from the Attorney General's office.
Are our police officers so untrustworthy and out of control that they require $600,000 of your tax dollars in bureaucratic babysitting, courtesy of the mayor and his legal consultants?
It is an insult, and somebody has to say it.
Crime and the horrid condition of the pothole-laden city streets may wind up as the main campaign issues of the primary, instead of the frivolous promise of an Underground Railroad museum based on bogus history, a new train station that no one will use, taxpayer-paid concerts that benefit only the Hard Rock Cafe, or even giving taxpayer money to Dyster's friends at NACC to make amateur movies.
Dyster can't pave the streets, and is soft, incredibly soft, on crime. In this instance -- although it is not in his nature -- he should have stood up for the Niagara Falls police. They stand up for us every day.
Shame on Dyster for his politically correct cowardice.