Southern Brooklyn

Southern Brooklyn officer discusses being a cop during George Floyd protests, looters, COVID-19 pandemic and governor’s criticism of NYPD’s handling of looting

June 3, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Southern Brooklyn officer discusses being a cop during George Floyd protests, looters, COVID-19 pandemic and governor’s criticism of NYPD’s handling of looting
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A police officer stationed in the Southern Brooklyn area discussed his feelings with this newspaper about protests that started in the area due to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on Monday, May 25, and the treatment of the NYPD since.

“I would say all of us are against what happened to Floyd,” he said. “We don’t see (ex-Minneapolis PD officer Derek Chauvin) as an officer. We call him a criminal. That’s what he is. The act he committed was criminal. As police officers, we are held to a higher standard and that’s not what we saw in the video. A lot of us are shocked that this cop thought he could do this and get away with it. I saw the video once and I couldn’t get myself to see it a second time. It’s absolutely horrible.”

He discussed the importance and value of peaceful protests by angry individuals who want to voice their pain.

“We are for peaceful protests,” he said. “I’ve been in many protests myself where, although we may not agree with it, we are there to make sure there is order. It doesn’t matter how we feel. We are there to make sure there is order for protests. Of course, if it gets unruly, we do have to protect property, we have to protect bystanders walking through.”

The officer added that most protests he’s been a part of in his career have been peaceful.

“We get people that shout and get emotional, passionate and we understand that,” he said. “A lot of times when I speak to the younger officers, I say, ‘Don’t take it personal.’ A lot of times, it’s the cop uniform they’re upset with. They’re upset about what we stand for and we have to accept that sometimes and understand someone else’s perspective. We may not agree with it, but we have to respect their right to protest and feel the way they do.”

Several stores in the New York City area, including those in downtown Brooklyn, have been destroyed and looted, which upsets the cop, who also questions the individuals committing the crimes.

“The feeling among us police officers is that those doing damage to the property aren’t even from New York,” he speculated. “People are coming from other states to damage our neighborhood. I shop in downtown Brooklyn. I have a good friend of mine who lives two blocks away from Barclays Center. Those are our stores we go to in that area. It’s upsetting to know that people that are not even from this area are doing that. Some of them are from the area. But a lot of these people don’t even live here. It’s upsetting to witness it.”

He also suggested the protesters looting aren’t really part of the protest and may be a group on their own.

“We understand a lot of these people say they’re part of the protest that are really paid protesters and we know this,” he said. “We’ve got information that a lot of these protesters and a lot of the agitators that end up spray painting and breaking the windows and loot are paid to do stuff like this. For the most part, we know the actual protesters aren’t actually doing it. Could some of them be? Possibly. All it takes is one person to break the glass, enter the store, and there’s an opportunity.”

The cop said it’s unclear who would be behind this alleged group.

“We don’t know [who] and we are trying to figure that one out,” he elaborated. “We can only speculate that it is someone who has a lot of money. Most of these protesters aren’t the ones doing actual damage and looting. Whoever is doing it is organized.”

The local cop also shared his dismay at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s critical comments of the NYPD during his conference on June 2.

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

“Those looters, that criminal activity, hurt everyone,” Cuomo said of looting that took place in New York City on Monday, June 1. “In the communities of the protesters, which are the communities that tend to be the poorest communities in New York City. And the police in New York City were not effective at doing their job last night, period. They have to do a better job.”

“It boils my blood,” the officer said of the governor’s criticism. “It’s mind-boggling to hear him say that and [have] an independent team to look into the actions of police officers when all we are trying to do is help the city and let people assemble peacefully during this protest. It really upsets me.”

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in a high death rate in Brooklyn, combined with the protests, also worries the officer.

“We haven’t even recovered from COVID-19,” he said. “Social distancing is still very real and now we are dealing with the protests. And we understand protests, but it’s been a huge challenge. A lot of officers have seen so many deaths from COVID. It’s sad to have to be in a situation where you feel compromised and others feel compromised because of these huge gatherings. In our precinct alone, we would see 9-10 bodies a day.”

In the cop’s earlier years on duty, he took locals’ anger toward cops personally. However, with age and experience, he explained how his outlook has changed.

“I’d say, ‘If something happened in the midwest, why is that affecting us?’ But now I get it,” he said. “We are police officers. We could be from the midwest or Canada or somewhere else, but we are still held to higher standards. What one police officer does is a reflection of all police officers. I used to get upset in my younger years, but now that I am seasoned and know more and have worked with the community, I know it’s not me. Once I take that out of the equation, I don’t take it personal. I understand it’s not me and where the anger comes from.”

The local officer also discussed the cancelation of regular days off for full-duty uniformed members.

“We want to get back to our normal lives too and do what we usually would on our days off,” he said. “They’ve taken our days off now too. We are working more hours. We were told our regular days off have been canceled so it’s pretty bad.”

Finally, he added what he would tell protesters.

“We are with you in this cause and we want justice,” he said. “Not only that one officer but his partners that could have stopped him as well. We want this to end soon because we want to live our lives as being police officers. We have families and enjoy time with them and alone time.”

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