Just how large of a threat do New York City’s cops pose to its citizens—especially those who live in public housing? Large enough that the city’s housing authority ordered its employees to wear bright orange vests on the job, just in case an NYPD officer in a dark project stairwell mistakes a worker for a resident and shoots him dead.
The New York Post reported yesterday that the New York City Housing Authority is asking public housing elevator maintenance workers to wear construction-style vests because of “trigger happy” cops like the one who killed Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man who was walking with his girlfriend, in the stairwell of NYCHA’s Pink Houses in December. According to the Post’s anonymous sources, different cops nearly shot a pair of NYCHA workers on a project rooftop recently:
“[The elevator workers] were basically told the reason was because of recent incidents where cops had pulled a gun on a caretaker and a supervisor on the roof of a housing project,” a source said.
“No one got shot, but they also referred to the cop shooting and were told, ‘We’re doing this for your protection. Your lives are in jeopardy, and we don’t want you to get hurt,’ ” the source said
One Housing boss told his workers that the move was for their own good because cops are “trigger happy,’’ the sources said.
The new rule also requires workers to wear badges around their necks instead of in their pockets—“We don’t want you reaching around in back pocket. That could be another reason for a cop to shoot you,” a NYCHA supervisor said, according to a worker who spoke with the Post. NYCHA confirmed the existence of the policy, but denied that it was “tied to any particular incident.”
The logic behind the rule says that if a cop recognizes the person in front of him as a maintenance worker, he won’t unload his gun as quickly as he otherwise might. And if wearing a vest can save a city employee from accidental death at the hands of the police, that’s great. But what about the people who actually live in the projects?