This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of CompStat, the technology-enabled innovation that turned the gritty New York City Police Department into a modern, transparent, and strategically intelligent public safety force. Every week, commanders from the city’s roughly 100 precincts come in front of top chiefs for a grilling on what’s happening in their command, what they plan to do about it, and if they’re succeeding. It can be terrifying. But the demand for individual accountability—on a podium, exposed under scrutiny—is what created an agency of leaders and the nation’s best police force.

This week, former NYPD captain and current mayor Eric Adams went through a version of this exercise in front of the press as he was grilled on the situation at New York City’s campus protests (especially at Columbia University), how police planned to deal with it, and how it was going. He shared the tactical and strategic planning that went into the arrests of roughly 300 people from Columbia and City College of New York on Tuesday. (An additional 13 from NYU and 43 from the New School were arrested today). He explained the authority granted for these raids by the school administrations—and by the laws allegedly broken, from criminal mischief to burglary.

And, Adams explained: “Young people are being influenced by those who are professionals at radicalizing our children, and I’m not going to allow that to happen as the mayor of the City of New York.” What is the NYPD doing now? “We are processing the arrests to distinguish between who are actual students and who were not supposed to be on the ground,” the mayor said. 

It was quite a scene on Tuesday night: NYPD officers entering Columbia’s illegally barricaded Hamilton Hall via an armored vehicle that got them through a second-floor window. Bodycam video illustrates what they encountered inside: physical blockades of furniture, garbage cans, and other objects obstructing their path, which they cut through with electric saws and blow torches. Then they had to deal with the demonstrators, some resisting—“Put it down, you’re gonna get hurt,” a cop told one idiot trying to block him with a makeshift shield—others complying, all amid the steady din of the rioters’ frenzied chanting. Not an easy day’s work: how many of us could handle it, even for a few minutes, without losing our composure? Yet the NYPD accomplished its assignment in an intensely hostile environment without using undue force. And when they were done, they lowered the Arab colors of the Palestinian flag that protesters had raised over CCNY and reinstated Old Glory.

Contrast this professionalism and competence with the squawks of protesters, most of whom have likely never been tested away from the protection of social media, group-based entitlements, and the safety blanket of anonymity. Unlike protesters of earlier generations—Mayor Adams conjured his own participation in bygone demonstrations with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton—the current crusaders distinguish themselves by cowering. They hide their faces behind pandemic-era masks, sinched hoodies, and keffiyehs wound tightly around their faces as if to keep out the worst Arabian sandstorm. They demand those who might challenge their ideas, mission, and strategy to stay away. And they block pro-Israel students from coming close enough to ask them a question—or even attend final exams in their vicinity.

Whatever the breakdown may be between outside agitators and enrolled students, these campus crusaders are leaders in the mold of Hamas’s own, who prolong the suffering of Gazans in their perennial dream of destroying Israel and world Jewry from the safety of hideaways throughout the Middle East and Europe. Even October 7 mastermind Yahya Sinwar is reportedly hiding underground with his family, surrounded by hostages as human shields.

Media reporting this week has been inundated with the petulant accounts of arrestees complaining about how “brutal” they found the experience of being held, finally, accountable for their actions. “As a human chain, draped in keffiyehs and shaking like leaves in the autumn wind, we sang with hushed tones,” recounts Columbia student and arrestee Allie Wong. “As [NYPD] approached from multiple directions, we sang with frail and cracking voices.” And then: “We clung tighter to one another as they approached us, and seized us like rag dolls.”

Wong professed herself shocked by the “brutality” of being “arrested, bound and shuttled down to 1 Police Plaza,” where “they threw us in cells like animals—cells where the only toilets women could use lacked any privacy.” (While, she gripes, the NYPD “had a pizza party prepared for arresting officers.”) 

For these protesting rag dolls, getting arrested must have been jarringly consequential. You can’t put your hand over the camera when police are taking your mugshot—not like you do on campus when someone critical of what you’re doing approaches to ask you a question. And your fingerprints are permanently yours—as is the recorded account of what laws you have been charged with trampling. Like the officers whose faces, badge numbers, and activities were all fully exposed and documented on video, campus agitators now have their personal identities and actions memorialized for all to see and judge.

This week has thrown into sharp relief for Americans, in New York and beyond, the difference between leadership—which the NYPD showed throughout—and what passes for courage and character among those who sow disorder.

Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images


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