In a recent op/ed in the Washington Times, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pontificated that his new anti-gun group wasn’t really anti-gun at all. Instead, the mayor suggested it was simply a matter of putting “public safety above politics.” Bloomberg spoke of the need to allow cities access to ATF trace data, and suggested that it could help prosecute those who take the lives of law enforcement officers. Bloomberg specifically mentioned the death of NYPD police officer Daniel Enchautegui in his attempt to persuade Americans of the legitimacy of his cause.
But there is another side to Bloomberg’s efforts, one that doesn’t support or promote law enforcement. In fact Bloomberg’s actions have put active law enforcement investigations at risk, and his city’s attorneys have given Officer Enchautegui’s family the cold shoulder as they search for answers in his death.
You see, Daniel Enchautegui’s family is suing the City of New York, alleging that police failed to send back up in a prompt manner after Enchautegui called 9-1-1 in December of 2005. The family’s attorney has asked for tapes of the 9-1-1 call, but so far the city has refused to release the tape. In a New York Post story, the family’s attorney said, “when something like this happens, the information should not be suppressed. I represent a hero police officer's family who was killed trying to do the right thing." While Mayor Bloomberg is willing to use Officer Enchautegui’s death to advance his call for more gun control, he doesn’t seem willing to order his attorneys to release the tape to Enchautegui’s family. I guess his support for law enforcement has its limits after all.
Bloomberg’s callous actions go far beyond the Enchautegui case. In fact, his very call to open ATF trace data to cities is in direct opposition to the stance by cops on the street.
A little background is in order. For several years, this information has been kept out of the hands of people like Mayor Bloomberg in order to protect ongoing law enforcement investigations and the officers involved. The law enforcement community has never been denied access to these records, as long as they’re requested in the course of an active criminal investigation. Bloomberg wants to change the rules so he can get access to the information, in order to use it in civil suits against federally licensed firearms dealers.
But what happens when Bloomberg gets his hands on this information? Law enforcement investigations are put at risk. Last year, when Bloomberg used civilian private investigators to try and illegally purchase firearms in several states, he put as many as eighteen active law enforcement investigations at risk. And how did Bloomberg choose the gun dealers he targeted? ATF trace data from several years ago, before the law had changed. Bloomberg says he found evidence of illegal activity, but for months now has declined to share that evidence with ATF, the agency tasked with enforcing our federal gun laws. If the mayor is really serious about going after illegal activity, why isn’t he cooperating with law enforcement?
The actions of Bloomberg and others like him are one of the reasons why law enforcement associations want to keep this ATF trace data out of the hands of people like him. While the mayor says law enforcement supports his proposal, the nation’s largest law enforcement organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, actually supports keeping the information where it belongs, in the hands of the police.
I can’t read Michael Bloomberg’s mind, and I won’t profess to know why he’s doing what he’s doing. All I know is that from where I sit, it looks like Bloomberg’s giving law enforcement a kick in the rear instead of a pat on the back. Our cops deserve better.
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