NEW YORK (AP) — Cellphone videos of people brazenly dousing uniformed New York Police Department patrolmen with water have sparked outrage and led police officials to urge the force not to tolerate the behavior.
Police on Tuesday were looking into two recent instances captured on video clips widely circulated on social media that show four on-duty officers getting soaked during a recent heat wave as onlookers jeer.
In the first video to surface, one of two officers making an arrest in Harlem appears to get hit in the head with a red plastic bucket as both are splashed with water. The other shows two officers getting repeatedly doused as they walk down a Brooklyn street looking sheepish as a woman's voice in the background is heard saying, "Oh, they violated them."
It appears in both cases that the officers never took action against pranksters who showed little sign they feared reprisal. That has fueled accusations against Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and other liberal politicians that their police reform policies have fostered a climate of disrespect for officers on the beat.
"Our anti-cop lawmakers have gotten their wish: the NYPD is now frozen," Patrick Lynch, the union president for the powerful Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement. "Disorder controls the streets, and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to take them back."
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said there's worry that the liquids in the buckets "could just as easily have been bleach, gasoline, or some other toxic substance."
Rudolph Giuliani, a lawyer for President Trump and former mayor of New York, also chimed in, telling Fox News that the dousings wouldn't have happened "if we didn't have a completely lazy mayor." The morale of the officers who were involved, he added, "has been destroyed."
The outcry comes at a time when de Blasio is already under fire from critics blasting him for holding off on ordering the firing of the police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner and claiming he has neglected the city while he runs for president.
Asked about the dousings in an interview Monday with local news channel NY1, the mayor expressed concern and cautioned potential copycats that "this is serious stuff. Don't do it."
Police officials have taken a firm stand, saying that they were seeking to identify the people who threw the water and suggesting they could be arrested.
The video from the Harlem arrest "is reprehensible," Chief of Department Terence Monahan said in a tweet. "NYC's cops & communities have made remarkable progress — together — but EVERY New Yorker MUST show respect for our cops. They deserve nothing less."
The NYPD has circulated a memo throughout the nation's largest police department explaining that while verbal taunting doesn't break the law, someone can be charged with harassment, disorderly conduct or other crimes "where an individual intentionally sprays or douses a member of service with water while performing their duties."