Instead of Scaling Down Parades, What If We Scaled Back on Police?

426772349_c44f171a90.jpgCops march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Photo: Nat Bane/Flickr

When NYPD announced Monday that, effective April 1, city parades must be shortened in distance by 25 percent and may no longer exceed five hours — period — there was an understandable sense of disappointment. But since the move was framed as an unavoidable reality of lean times — "The mayor has made it clear that New Yorkers can’t afford a tax increase now, and we can’t take our eyes off the ball when it comes to keeping crime low," said Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler — electeds don’t seem to be putting up much of an argument. After all, how you gonna enjoy the parade if you get shot, or blown up by terrorists?

According to NYPD, reducing parade sizes will save $3.1 million and help stave off cuts in "essential police services." But before New Yorkers accept as a fait accompli what amounts to another restriction on the public realm, here’s a question they should ask: Rather than abridge events, why can’t we cut back on police presence?

This issue has come up in relation to the puzzlingly short hours allotted to DOT’s wildly popular Summer Streets. Said resident gadfly Marty Barfowitz last August:

I’ve heard that in Bogota, their Ciclovia event — which takes place
every Sunday over hundreds of kilometers of streets — is mostly
officiated by young people doing their national service requirement.

We’re not about to say there’s no need for cops at public events, but is it really a question of Puerto Rican pride (or Irish, or LGBT) vs. Al Qaeda? Are car-free streets that difficult to control compared to those teeming with auto traffic? Your thoughts, please.

Bonus: City Room is taking comments on what else could stand a 25 percent cut.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Fighting the NYPD’s “Parade” Rules

|
Starting August 24, the NYPD’s new "Parade" rules will take effect unless the Mayor or City Council take action to stop them. What would these new rules mean to everyday people? Any group of two (yes, 2) or more cyclists or pedestrians traveling down a public street, who violate any traffic law, rule or regulation […]

Source: NYPD Lets Civilians Conduct Traffic Control for Hanukkah Parade

|
We never did get a response from NYPD about the motorized Lubavitcher Hanukkah parade where civilians with lights and sirens on their SUVs made a mess of traffic control on Sixth Avenue. But a source affiliated with the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council filled in the blanks, saying the parade is authorized by NYPD. The source asked to remain […]

NYPD Public Hearing on Parade Permit Rules Changes

|
The Police Department is unilaterally proposing to change the City’s parade permit rules (PDF) and under these new rules, the NYPD will have the power to stop any ten or more cyclists "proceeding together" if one of them breaks any traffic rules, law or regulation. Simply put, this means that you can be arrested for […]