Times Square Bombing and NYPD

If you see something, say something.

That’s what a vendor did on 45th street when he saw Nissan Pathfinder smoking, and that’s what he wants to tell New Yorkers.

Times Square Bomb SUV

Courtesy CNN

By now, everyone’s heard about the foiled bombing attempt on Times Square in which a parked car filled with propane tanks started smoking when a bomb squad was called to handle it.  Police are still looking for the suspect at the time of this posting.

Speaking of the police, I have differing opinions on New York’s Finest.  The police officer that first found the car, while undoubtedly a fine gentleman of outstanding character, is being touted as a hero.  But what did he really do?  He looked at something he was told to investigate.  Isn’t that the job of a police officer?

I say this, because in the context of budget shortfalls, incidents like these can lead to even more panic about Bloomberg’s threat to cut the police force in the coming year from people worried about safety.  My experiences have been mixed.  I’ve seen extensive police coverage in more questionable areas of New York that I’ve been entirely grateful for, but I’ve also seen overcoverage – one example that comes to mind is the 15 police officers milling around the

NYPD in Times Square

NYPD in Times Square

Franklin Avenue 2/3/4/5 station when I come home from school.  Likewise, if it was a street vendor that noticed the smoke in the recent bombing, why couldn’t he or she have just pulled another of the dozens of officers in Times Square aside and asked them to investigate.

The question I’m getting to is this: Do more police officers = safer NY?

I’m inclined to say yes, but up to a certain threshold.  Undoubtedly the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations have proven that lots and lots of cops, compared to fewer, make the streets much safer.  But given that the last two planned terrorist attacks – Zazi and this Times Square bombing – were uncovered by other New Yorkers and reported to the police, I have to wonder if shaving off some police officers will really hit the department as hard people say it will.

Is it really that much to worry about?

What do you say, fellow New Yorkers??? (or non-fellow New Yorkers for that matter!)


20 thoughts on “Times Square Bombing and NYPD

  1. Great post, and your honesty about the police is refreshing.

    Do more police make us safer? In empirical terms, the answer is “no.” Police being assigned to specific activities and areas can certainly reduce crime, and make communities safer though.

  2. Thankfully no harm was done to anyone at Times Square and a more serious attack was thwarted because somone kept their eye open. Kudos to them!

    One important lesson pre- and post- the Times Square incident: We must be on guard at all times. That responsibility is to be left not just on the cops, but its citizens, you and me. NYC is claimed to be the “metropolis of the world” and there are people who feel indifferent to the values of Americans and have used the city as a target (e.g. 9/11) to carry out their harmful and even destructive goals. You know the “See Something. Say Something.” tagline going around the city–the campaign is for a reason. We need to stand by that credo as NYers (whether it be a cop or not).

    I believe we as Americans are stronger as a unified nation when we start by looking out for each other. In the meantime, the more presence of those trained and paid to protect its citizens, the better. I’d rather more of the NYPD than none at all.

    • I completely agree about keeping your eyes peeled. We’re lucky something worse didn’t happen in this instance.

      I’d love to have more rather than less police officers, as you mention, I’m just pointing out that, unfortunately, they may not fit our budget, and also, we may be able to have the same quality of security with fewer officers.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I absolutely think more officers on the streets equates to a safer city. Presence alone can have a profound effect in deterring potential criminals. I don’t have statistics to quote, but I’m sure if you dig, the numbers will prove this.

    In regards to, “But given that the last two planned terrorist attacks – Zazi and this Times Square bombing – were uncovered by other New Yorkers and reported to the police, I have to wonder if shaving off some police officers will really hit the department as hard people say it will.”, I have to say that I do not depend on fellow New Yorkers to look out for anyone’s well being but their own. Unfortunately, there have been too many cases where New Yorkers stay silent as blatant crime unfolds before their eyes. Of course, this is not characteristic of NY alone.

    • You’re right about people not always saying something – the case of the stabbing victim that lay on the streets for hours while people walked by is evidence enough. And I’m sure that police presence does help to a degree. I just see an awful lot of clusters of officers hanging around the city and I wonder if having 5 instead of 7 would really make that much of a difference, in the end. Especially given the serious budget shortfalls.

  4. I agree that more cops mean less crime. As far as the guy being a hero, I don’t know about you but if I saw a smoking car bomb, I’d run like hell!

  5. As a former New Yorker, I have mixed feelings about this topic. Although more police officers on the street may thwart crime, seeing them around provides more of a psychological safety.

    It’s more important to encourage citizens (such as the responsible New Yorker above who alerted the cops) to partake in the safety of their cities and communities. I believe there needs to be more of a push towards the average citizen taking ownership of safety of themselves and the people they love.
    I’m sure there’s a way to determine the right balance of monetary spend towards educating & encouraging citizens more (because I still see many New Yorkers and American citizens in general turn a blind eye to safety issues) along with having enough cops on the street.

    Safety is an important issue for all of us!

    • I definitely feel safer when I see more cops and I agree on education. The vendor joked with reporters when he said “If you see something, say something,” but he obviously remembered, didn’t he? I think they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping people alert.

  6. I completely agree with the fact that more police officers may not make NY any safer. I also think a lot of places have too many on duty and most likely get distracted by each other rather than paying attention to what’s going on around them. Maybe if they were better spread out they could better ensure the safetly of NY. I wouldn’t say that we should cut police from our budget. I think that just with the presence of police alone, whether they are paying attention or not, people are less likely to commit crime and bad or unsafe things are less likely to happen.

  7. What I say is this: This is so embarrassing.

    How long will we be listening to intelligent looking people giving all the energy, emotion and verbiage to this nothing happening as if it reallt WERE news?

    It’s reminds me of the amthrax “scare” that cost the country millions (and doubtlessly made somebody very rich). Our thirst for fear is SO ready, we’ll buy anything.

  8. I live in London England, which is always under terrorism threat. Always. Sometimes you know the level is higher as you see police officers at major tube stations and on platforms, other times you almost forget that the threat ever even existed. I think police visibility is a good thing. If nothing else, it does give the residents a peace of mind, even if a little bit.

  9. We at the Mid-Atlantic Lounge were aware of the bomb threat when it broke headlines, but none of us found it any cause for concern. We knew that this was not the work of a foreign terrorist, rather something homegrown.

    This may stem from resentment with the government or a variety of other factors, but either way, someone was not in a good mood.

  10. As a Memphis, TN resident, I can say that more officers do not equal a safer street. It’s exactly as you state- citizens being vigilant put a stop to crime, not officers investigating per their job.

    The Memphis Police Department has had issues with retention of officers/PR issues/and recruiting hassles despite the fact that the MPD officers are also comparatively well paid. The problem with recruiting here is that officers know they need the assistance of vigilant citizens to do their jobs and don’t have the “back up” from Memphians.

    More police don’t make people safer.

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