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July 7, 2004


Squabbling in Uniform +

A lot of catfighting these days between the City, the firefighters, and the police department. First, (now-)retired NYPD lieutenant Vic Hollifield called New York's firefighters "amateurs at work" on ABC's summer documentary series NYPD 24/7. Then the Uniformed Firefighters Association took out full page ads in all the New York papers yesterday protesting his comments, and criticized the NYPD for allowing the comment to air on national tv. Today, Bloomberg calls these ads "over the top" and politically-driven and doesn't think Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly should have to apologize for the comment. The Post has further quotes from Hollifield expressing surprise at the reaction to his comment on the TV show, and admiration for the FDNY, but no apology.

There are some signs of cooperation though, especially in preparation for the RNC next month. Firefighters, cops, and teachers' unions are all planning to picket Madison Square Garden beginning July 19, when convention organizers get control of the area. In preparation, the Uniformed Firefighters Association took out another big ad, this time in the Washington Post (pdf here) outlining demands for higher pay for cops and firefighters. It's going to be a dramatic summer in this town. -Amy

Maybe everybody should have just waited a week before starting all this fighting. Hollifield was made out to look like a bit like an idiot on last night's episode of NYPD 24/7, screwing up at least three different situations....

First, in the show's opening segment, a relatively straightforward operation where his unit was supposed to bust down a door and retrieve a kid from a non-cooperative mother went completely haywire when someone forget to bring the pneumatic door opener. About 11 cops eventually banged their way into the apartment, with Hollifield bringing up the rear, barking orders at people because he thought the mother was going to try to throw the kid -- who I think was 11 years old -- out the window.

Later in the episode, Hollifield, who was on duty but not on patrol at the time, pulled over an apparently drunk driver and, instead of writing him a summons, took the man's keys and locked them in the man's car and told them to take a cab home. Moments later, the man's daughter revealed that their house keys were now locked inside the car, thanks to Hollifield, so they couldn't really go home. His solution to this problem was to scream at them, repeatedly, to go home. After some more screaming, he pulled his car around where they couldn't see and then waited for them to try to break into the vehicle so he could yell at them some more. He even yelled at a guy who was trying to help them retrieve the keys. Eventually, he got into such a heated confrontation with the driver he called in for backup and told them that the guy was an "EDP" (emotionally disturbed person). They roughed up the guy and hauled him off. And Hollifield acts like it was all the guy's fault, saying he was just trying to give him a break, but the guy wouldn't take advantage of it. Well, if old Lt. Vic Hollifield had just followed procedure, then none of this yelling and screaming would have happened and the guy would have been both legally responsible for his behavior, and Hollifield wouldn't have wasted a few hours of everyone's time.

Still later in the episode, Hollifield gets called to a "building collapse." As he speeds there, another vehicle cuts in front of him or won't get out of his way as he approaches an exit ramp. He makes all sorts of huffy noises at the guys, and when they talk back a little, trying to explain what they were doing, you halfway expect him to lock their keys in their car, too. Instead, after a few more words, he tells them they just "bought" themselves a summons, and calls another cop over to help him write it. THIS IS WHILE HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE ON HIS WAY TO A COLLAPSED BUILDING.

Thankfully, at the end of the episode, Hollifield retires from the department -- his 20 years are up -- and so now we don't have to worry about his blowhard non-standard "discretionary" tactics anymore. How you can be a police officer for two decades and still deal with people in the self-aggrandizing, non-constructive way that Hollifield consistently does is beyond me.

So if I were the FDNY, I wouldn't get too bent out of shape over this guy calling me an "amateur," since it was overwhelmingly clear that despite 20 years on the job, Hollifield himself was more than a bit amateurish. -adm

categories: Media, NYC, Politics
posted by amy at 10:48 AM | #