New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has had a fractious relationship with his police department, which is inconvenient: In addition to operating a police force so large in size, global reach and international prestige that it rivals the military fielded by small countries, the New York Police Department also provides round-the-clock security services for de Blasio and his family.
Which means, depending on the day and how badly de Blasio is annoying shot-callers at the powerful police union by affirming that #BlackLivesMatter or calling for reduced penalties for low-level marijuana busts, he is essentially subject to full-time surveillance by a hostile armed force adept as anyone in Washington or abroad in the art of strategic leaks.
When word leaked to the press that de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, liked to occasionally smoke marijuana together—no big deal, but an embarrassing smear job nonetheless—there was only one likely source, as Gawker pointed out in 2015: NYPD, and the cops assigned to safeguard the mayor and his family.
NYPD cops don’t forgive, nor do they forget—which is vitally important for the public to remember when processing the news that an NYPD sergeant assigned to de Blasio’s security detail was suspended after testing positive for marijuana.
At first, it sounds like karmic comeuppance for the cannabis cheap shot de Blasio and his wife suffered: the same cops who sowed scandal at the tabloids are guilty of the same behavior. Hypocrites! Sad!
Except when you look at exactly what happened with now-suspended NYPD Sgt. Tracy Gittens and how the New York Daily News found out, it has all the fingerprints of yet another politically-motivated NYPD hit job.
First: Gittens is a veteran cop with 15 years experience and a clean disciplinary record. In other words, she should be above suspicion. She’s also a close confidante of the city’s first lady McCray, who requested Gittens return to the mayoral security detail after a transfer away from the job in 2014, as the New York Daily News reported. Working with the mayor is a choice assignment within NYPD, meaning Gittens took a job some other cops—possibly many, many other cops—wanted and thought was theirs.
And the source for the scoop on Gittens, who supposedly failed a drug test sometime in the past few days and received a 30-day suspension, the precursor to further possible discipline including dismissal? The police.
This is sensitive employee information that should be protected, yet it was “police sources” that fed the Daily News in a brazen and transparent attempt to sow scandal.
There are obvious political motives.
While advocating for lesser punishment for marijuana crimes in New York City—which for many years had the dubious distinction of locking up more people, per capita and by total volume, than any other city in the country, fueling a lockup rate for weed in New York State in excess of that in Texas—de Blasio has denied smoking marijuana while an adult, saying publicly that the last time was when he was a student at NYU. Soon after, the stories about he and his wife’s secret sessions spilled out.
As it happens, one of the challengers lining up to contest de Blasio’s reelection bid is Bo Dietl—a former NYPD detective and one of the people accusing de Blasio and McCray of getting stoned at the mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion, in Manhattan.
NYPD’s cold war against the man they are sworn to protect is continuing, and Gittens is just the latest casualty. That NYPD is willing to sacrifice one of its own people in its quest to discredit and ultimately destroy de Blasio should give us all pause.
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