new york's finest

NYPD Union Encourages Cops to Spend Free Time Photographing Homeless People

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty

An NYPD union is taking a page from the playbook of the New York Post, which recently spent three days cruelly documenting the activities of a single homeless man who was spotted urinating on the Upper West Side. In a memo sent to its members on Monday, the Sergeants Benevolent Association announced the commencement of a campaign called “Peek-a-Boo, We See You!” As you might have guessed from the name, the initiative doesn’t exactly take a compassionate approach to New York’s unluckiest residents.

In the letter, SBA chief Ed Mullins urges his officers to “utilize your smartphones to photograph the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type.” (The note came with a reminder to only do this “while traveling to and from work or any time off duty,” as on-duty cops are prohibited from photographing civilians.) Mullins also encouraged “friends, family,” and anyone with no qualms about shaming the less fortunate to take up the cause, as well. The resulting photos will be posted to a public website.

Mullins’s memo indicated that “Peek-a-Boo, We See You!” is a response to some City Council members’ recent efforts to pass police reform, such as the Right to Know Act, and suggests that New York’s current leadership (i.e. Mayor de Blasio) is to blame for the perceived uptick in homelessness. “We’re hoping to hold members of the City Council and other politicians accountable, just as we are. Whenever there’s a police encounter you have almost every citizen taking out a cell phone and videoing it and it goes live on every news media that there is,” said another PBA official, Bob Ganley. “You can’t have aggressive panhandling going on in the City of New York, the amount of homeless people that are begging on the streets of the city, people urinating and defecating in places that they shouldn’t be. It’s not fair to the people that we represent, people that we serve.” He seems to have forgotten that the homeless fall into that category, as well.

NYPD Union Tells Cops to Photograph Homeless