Get caught doing something dumb and it is tempting to shift the blame.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department fell victim to that tendency as reported in a story in today’s New York Daily News.
In May a blogger by the name Bucky Turco (which sounds like an alias to us) reported that he found a bunch of sensitive police documents in a trash can outside the NYPD Manhattan South Task Force on W. 42nd St. The papers included a small portion of the city’s counter terrorism plans. Not the kind of stuff which out to be laying around. There was a mini-flap over the incident at the time.
Well, Bucky went back by the same trash bin Monday and guess what he found? More internal police documents. This time they don’t seem to be quite as sensitive (instructions on how to resolve confrontations among police officers, how to deal with hostage situations and the like) but still probably not the best material to make available to Times Square dumpster divers.
The Daily News quotes NYPD spokesman Paul Browne as admitting that their officers shouldn’t litter the city with such stuff but apparently he couldn’t resist taking a shot at Bucky:
“While none of the documents appear to be sensitive, the command should ensure they’re shredded,” Browne is quoted as saying, “especially since someone with a lot of time on his hands is going through the garbage there.”
Ouch. We’re sure Browne felt good getting a shot off at Turco but, as he knows, terrorists and criminals have a lot of time on their hands too.
While it may well be true that the most recent documents were not particularly important, there is little advantage in hanging your police hat on that fact. The impression left but such a defense is that the NYPD is cavalier about protecting sensitive stuff.
Browne would have been better advised to simply say the documents should have been shredded and that they’ll do better in the future. Full stop.