Ron Rosenbaum

The Bell Verdict and the Tragic Folly of Vice Squads

Whatever you think of the not-guilty verdict this morning–the acquittal of the NYPD cops who shot and killed Sean Bell during a street fracas after a strip club bachelor party–the shooting was a tragedy. An unnecesssary tragedy. And there is a guilty party.

The guilty party is the tragic stupidity of wasting law enforcement resources, endangering law enforcement lives by forcing cops to enforce antiquated vice laws. In a city that is the world’s number one target for terrorism personnel, funds and lives are squandered on expensive, provocative and dangerous laws designed to keep strip clubs sex and drug free. And New Yorkers are supposed to be smart!

Even if you’re not a libertarian on such matters (as I am) those cops would not have had to be there, those bullets would not have been fired, that bachelor party wouldn’t have turned bloody and fatal if the police department didn’t task undercover cops with infiltrating strip clubs, making like they’re a den of evil rather than vice there’s a difference).

Mayor Bloomberg who initially tut-tutted over the number of shots fired is abandoning his responsibility if he doesn’t go deeper than that, and order his police commissioner to re examine the priorities in enforcement. Vice squads, buy and bust operations, belong to the 19th century. They cost money and they cost lives. If he’s such a brave independent, cost-conscious fellow as he’s always telling us he is, Bloom-berg should pay NYPD cops more (starting salary 25K!) and make sure the money’s spent on non stupid priorities. Giving us more security (hint: the ports) rather than unattainable sterility.