Over the July 4 weekend, WNYC reporter Gwynne Hogan shared a photo of the New York City Police Department’s latest attempt at community outreach. The largest local law enforcement agency in the United States plans to launch a game truck full of consoles to seemingly entice children into spending more time around cops.
The game truck is an initiative from the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau. Among other things, the office states its ostensible goal is to strengthen relations with the communities the department policies and “reduce youth crime” by way of “enrichment, diversion, and intervention programs.” A news report from last month chronicled the game truck’s unofficial debut, and showed children inside the truck playing Mario Kart 8.
The truck’s exterior makes its intentions very obvious. Even with its two shutters open, it’s easy to make out bits and pieces of Marvel superheroes like Black Widow, the Hulk, Wolverine, Thor, Rogue, and Iron Man alongside a very bright, kid-friendly “NYPD Game Truck” logo. Some have pointed out the possibility of the massive, Disney-owned entertainment company being put off by the use of its characters by cops, but I’m guessing it’s probably okay with that association.
Kotaku reached out to the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau about the game truck but didn’t hear back before publishing.
You’ll notice the Community Affairs Bureau’s page doesn’t say anything about efforts to reduce the NYPD’s contributions to the country’s overwhelming number of police shootings, which would probably go a lot further than some cookouts and video games. According to Police Scorecard, a third-party database that analyzes the conduct of law enforcement across the country, the NYPD is among the worst police departments for officer accountability despite being one of the most well-funded in the United States.
That’s not to mention the NYPD’s offenses against kids specifically, in and out of uniform. The department is known to surreptitiously collect DNA from children for entry into a city database, and (just to note) I assume it wouldn’t be too difficult to lift fingerprints from a PlayStation or Xbox pad. And that’s not to mention recent instances of officers soliciting nude photos from kids and raping teenagers in custody. No, an NYPD event is probably the last place I would send children.
With police budgets only increasing in response to bogus fears of a new crime wave, I fully expect departments across the United States to turn to tactics like the NYPD’s game truck to massage their public image while simultaneously continuing to brutalize the population. Well, after spending that money on surplus army tanks and weapons, of course. How else are they going to live out their violent fantasies against peaceful protestors?