Borough President Eric Adams said Thursday that he would have arrested the men who over the weekend doused water on police officers.
During the heat wave, two videos were recorded and posted to social media of people dumping water on police officers. One incident took place in Harlem and the other in Brownsville. As of Wednesday, three suspects were in custody for the water dousings, the NYPD says.
The incidents were widely condemned— and the cops praised for exercising restraint and not angrily reacting to getting water poured on them—by elected officials.
But Adams, a former police captain, said Thursday morning that, if he found himself in a similar situation, “somebody is going to get arrested right then.”
“What I learned in policing is if people disregard the [police’s] authority, it becomes contagious, and it starts to spread,” he said on Am970’s The Joe Piscopo Show. “By leaving the scene, those individuals there would have been emboldened and that thought process, particularly with social media, would spread throughout the city.”
“We can never have a city where people are not going to say, ‘I’m going to respect the authority of the uniform that is being worn,” he added. “The [police] uniform is the symbol of public protection.”
In addition, the borough president took the opportunity to make a broader defense of Broken Windows-style policing.
“You start with a water bucket,” said Adams, who is a presumed top-tier 2021 mayoral candidate, “then you move to some other evasive way just to disregard the right of people to exist.”
The borough president’s comments come after Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called the water dumping “completely unacceptable.” Adam’s reaction closely mirrors that of NYPD Chief Terence Monahan, who did not appreciate the officers’ decision not to apprehend the people who dumped water on them.
“Any cop who thinks that that’s all right— that they can walk away from something like that— maybe should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them,” he said Tuesday.
For his part, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Wednesday called the water dumpings “shameful,” but said he was “thankful for the restraint” the officers exercised.
“These acts are harmful not only to the officers targeted but also to the larger community and the conversation around better policing,” Williams, a former City Council member who represented parts of Brooklyn, said. “Officers are trained to show discipline, but that doesn’t mean they should be absurdly tested.”