Sunday, July 31, 2011

Orthodox cops: Separate and unequal 

Earlier this month, a horrified New York City reeled under the news that 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, a Hasidic boy in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, had been abducted on his way home from a nearby day camp and, the next evening, smothered to death and dismembered by his captor, who was also an Orthodox Jew.

The public got a second shock when it learned that Leiby’s disappearance was only belatedly reported to the police, and that a privately run, Orthodox Jewish “patrol” called Shomrim reportedly had video evidence that went unused during the crucial hours before the murder, while untrained Jewish laymen tried to handle the investigation themselves.

And now comes what ought to be shock No. 3: Jewish vigilante groups like Shomrim, unskilled and ill-equipped for police work, and all too often driven by religious proscriptions to keep their community’s crimes out of the public eye, are being paid to interfere with the authorities by New York City taxpayers — through the generous offices of some City Council members.

The council’s just-finalized budget for 2012 includes more than $130,000 in “member item” donations to private Orthodox Jewish pseudo-police — gifts of taxpayer money that were personally authorized by Democratic Brooklyn City Councilmen Lewis Fidler, David Greenfield, Brad Lander and Stephen Levin. Remember that these Jewish patrols operate only in a few Brooklyn neighborhoods and answer to the needs of only one religious community.

Why, then, are city legislators doling out increasingly scarce public funds to help Jewish gendarmes compete with the NYPD?

I am an Orthodox Jew; I am also a lawyer with an extensive record of advocacy for victims of child abuse. And I have a message for politicians who curry favor with Jewish voting blocs by helping to fund their private patrols: Don’t do it.

It’s bad government, and bad law enforcement practice, to share taxpayer money with religion-based groups whose contribution to police work is doubtful at best and whose priorities may well conflict with the law.

Not so long ago, a warning against government funding for vigilantes would have been needless. When Curtis Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels in 1979, New York City officials, including then-Mayor Ed Koch, didn’t want them in New York City at all; those young idealists would have been laughed all the way across the Hudson if they’d had the temerity to ask City Council for handouts.

Does anyone truly believe that Orthodox Jewish vigilantes like the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol, the Williamsburg Safety Patrol and the Shmira Civilian Volunteer Patrol of Borough Park — all of them on the take for budget dollars in 2012 — do the city a better service?


Any small amount of credibility this person may have had has now been flushed down the toiler like the load of waste it is.


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