Cops are trained to make snap decisions under highly stressful situations. Often their training saves lives. Sometimes they deeply regret decisions they make.
After thinking back on his recent behavior while working during a protest at Foley Square May 31, NYPD officer Robert Cattani offered a heartfelt apology:
“I know I made the wrong decision,” he told his colleagues in an e-mail first reported by the NY Post Thursday. “I know that it was wrong and something I will be shamed and humiliated about for the rest of my life.”
Sounds pretty bad.
“The cop in me wants to kick my own ass,” he wrote.
Wow, he’s really being hard on himself.
“I spent the first part of my career thriving to build a reputation of a good cop,” Cattani wrote. “I threw all that in the garbage.”
What does he feel so bad about?
“The conditions prior to the decision to take a knee were very difficult as we were put center stage with the entire crowd chanting.”
In plain English, “I knelt.”
I had to double-check numerous times to make sure I wasn’t reading a parody website.
His confession is a good example of how people in authority use language to minimize their own agency. He doesn’t use an active verb like “I decided” — instead he uses the abstract noun “decision,” which de-emphasizes the conscious actions of a human being.
And it’s not even “my decision,” it’s “the decision.”
He says he was “attempting to reduce any extra violence,” thinking that if he did so, maybe “one protester/rioter who saw it would later think twice about fighting or hurting a cop.”
The Post’s story includes a photo of Cattani tending to a fellow officer who was injured later that evening.
According to the NY Post (“NYPD lieutenant apologizes to colleagues for kneeling during George Floyd protest“), at least some of Cattani’s peers feel that appeasing the crowd (they were chanting “NYPD take a knee”) made the police appear weak.
“I’m glad he took it back, because your officers are out here battling with these guys and that’s what you do to show appreciation? Never show your weakness,” an “insider” told the Post.