Governor Andrew Cuomo (D – NY) apologized Tuesday night to the New York City Police Department (NYPD) after calling their efforts to reduce Monday night’s looting and rioting “disgraceful.” Thus far, the governor has not apologized for the same comments he made about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo’s initial comments came at his Tuesday press briefing. “The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night. I believe that,” Cuomo remarked. He added, “It was a disgrace,” and said that while he did not immediately plan to send the National Guard to New York City, he does have the authority to “displace” Mayor de Blasio. Cuomo said he had offered to send in the National Guard and that de Blasio had refused.
While the governor’s comments were mostly aimed at de Blasio, he clearly called out the NYPD for not doing enough to stop the rioting and damage. His office spun the comments Tuesday night as being focused on the department’s “management and deployment.”
Cuomo’s adviser, Rich Azzopardi said in a statement, “The Governor has always said he has respect and confidence in the NYPD and he knows they can handle this situation because he has seen them do it in the past.” He added, “The Mayor should put more NYPD officers on the streets to do their job.”
Mayor de Blasio is in charge of the NYPD response, and has clearly failed to maintain law and order in his city. So it’s easy to believe that Cuomo’s ire was primarily directed at his long-time foe in Gracie Mansion. But if his intent was just to criticize de Blasio, he failed by casting a wider net of criticism over the brave men and women working hard to protect life and property in America’s largest city. It’s hard to explain away a comment like, “The police in New York City were not effective in doing their job last night. Period.”
The criticism didn’t go unheard at NYPD headquarters. Chief Terence Monohan appeared on the “Today” show Wednesday morning and said, “You’d have to come out and see what these men and women are doing, don’t ever call them ineffective.” Monohan said the Governor’s office called him Tuesday night to apologize and that Cuomo himself apologized to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Mayor de Blasio blasted Cuomo, saying the Governor “dishonored the men and women of the NYPD.” He added, “Any elected official who blames the NYPD while they were out there fighting in the streets to restore order, protect people — that’s disgraceful.”
That the Governor has not apologized to the Mayor is telling. The two have had a long-running feud and the crises of 2020 have shined a light on their disagreements, and their mutual dislike.
For all of Cuomo’s mafioso-like bravado and smooth talk in his daily press briefings, his state has floundered in the face of both the coronavirus pandemic and the rioting. Despite family reunion-style interviews with his brother Chris on CNN, or maybe because of them, the media and much of the political left have swooned over Cuomo’s every word. He gives a great press conference, I will grant him that. But the facts on the ground in New York State – mostly due to those in New York City – tell a different story.
If New York were a country, it would rank third in the world (behind the US and Brazil) in total coronavirus deaths and fourth in the world (US, Brazil, Russia) in positive cases. The state accounts for 28% of all US virus deaths and 20% of the cases. “But there are more people in New York,” you might argue. Sure, but on a per capita basis, New York also leads all US states and territories in both deaths and cases. Certainly one factor is Cuomo’s directive to nursing homes to take covid patients, at a time when everyone knew they were breeding grounds for the virus. The first virus outbreak in the US happened in a Washington State nursing home in February.
So Cuomo’s utter mismanagement of the virus precedes his ineffective response to the riots of the past week. Mayor de Blasio is by no means without blame in either case. He hypocritically enjoyed working out and visiting parks in NYC while telling others not to, and he waited until May to thoroughly sanitize the subway system. And Cuomo is right – de Blasio has muzzled the NYPD in their response to the looting and rioting. Monday night, he announced a ridiculous 11 pm curfew, then failed to enforce it. At least he has had the back of his police force during these troubling months, but he could really help them by taking the Governor up on his offer to bring in reinforcements in the form of the National Guard. For his part, Cuomo should do more than talk tough. He should exercise his rightful authority to activate the Guard, as the majority of US states have already done.
Improvement on either crisis in New York (City or State) will likely be due to exhausted looters, overworked cops, a waning virus or just dumb luck. Don’t expect the dynamic duo of finger pointing to come together for the good of New Yorkers anytime soon.