A Philly.com report tells us that “National Guard plays key role in N.J. relief efforts.” The LA Times has reported that “More than 10,000 National Guard troops in 13 states have been mobilized to assist in the response to Hurricane Sandy, including more than 2,200 who are assisting with recovery efforts in New York.” Guard troops are also in New York City to some degree (Mayor Michael Bloomberg says “We have 13 distribution sites opened, staffed by National Guard members”), including hard-hit Staten Island.
But at least as of Thursday, according to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, as reported by Eli Rosenburg at the the Brooklyn Paper, which calls itself the borough’s “leading news media,” the mayor has refused a request to allow the Guard into the borough. Based on resource deployment priorities, the Mayor’s refusal could be justified. But wait until you see the actual reason Bloomberg gave for his refusal, one which you might think would have received more media attention by now (bolds are mine):
Bloomberg: The National Guard in Coney is a bad idea
Mayor Bloomberg has snubbed Borough President Markowitz’s impassioned plea to bring the National Guard to Hurricane Sandy-scarred Brooklyn — arguing that approving the Beep’s request would be a waste of federal manpower and turn the borough into a police state.
“We don’t need it,” Mayor Bloomberg said on Wednesday during a press update on the city’s ongoing Hurricane Sandy cleanup. “The NYPD is the only people we want on the street with guns.”
Markowitz demanded the National Guard’s help just an hour before Bloomberg’s press conference, claiming that the NYPD and FDNY are “brave — but overwhelmed” by all the challenges Sandy brought when it visited the borough on Monday night: flooding, power outages, and looting.
“All of our resources have been stretched to the limit,” Markowitz said. “In the name of public safety we need to send more National Guard personnel into Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook, and any other locations.”
Markowitz hopes that the sight of an armed soldier would deter criminal activity in the still-unaccessible evacuation zones — such as the rash of break-ins that took place in Coney Island hours after Sandy kissed the borough goodbye — but the Mayor said the NYPD was more than capable of handling the job.
“There are plenty of locations upstate and in surrounding states where they don’t have a police department the size of New York and they can use help [from the National Guard],” said Bloomberg.
Markowitz said he was surprised by the Mayor’s response, but was sticking to his guns.
“We stand by our statement 100 percent,” said Markowitz spokesman John Hill. “We hope the governor will listen to our request.”
In the “rash of break-ins” referenced above, “A wave a (sic) looters followed the Sandy storm surge in Coney Island, creating a double-whammy for business owners trying to pick up the obliterated pieces.” Whether they could have been deployed quickly enough to prevent this mayhem is probably an open question, but there isn’t any reasonable dispute that an armed Guard presence would have had significant deterrent value.
The Mayor’s stance would appear to indicate that he might be okay with deploying the Guard if they’d only leave those darned weapons behind. Really? Gosh, what if the bad guys are armed?
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.