The NYPD’s response to the disorder at Columbia and CCNY’s campuses Tuesday night brought a strange feeling to me, one I haven’t felt for four years: pride.

Pride at having spent 32 years as a member of the department.

Pride in the fact that my immediate family (dad, brother, son and I) have a combined total of just under 100 years of service with the Finest.

Pride at having worked with, and for, some of the most exceptional men and women I’ve ever met.

And sadness that far too many of my NYPD colleagues’ lives were sacrificed in the line of duty, in service to their fellow New Yorkers.

That feeling of pride has been missing for four years, since the 2020 riots following George Floyd’s death.

Long retired at that time, I watched TV coverage of the riots in disbelief.

NYPD officers standing on street corners doing very little as mobs looted stores right in front of them.

Those cops who did act seemed to be working independently, wading into the crowd to make an apprehension and having to fight their way out with their collar.

I asked a highly decorated cop buddy who was there how this could have been allowed to happen.

“We were ordered to take no action,” he replied.

Presumably, that order originated in City Hall, with then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was quoted, in part, as saying about the NYPD’s response to the protests, “I want to see a light touch because people are undeniably angry for a reason.”

The result: the looting of countless stores from Soho to Midtown, including Macy’s iconic 34th Street flagship, and the breaking of windows along Fifth Avenue.

Not to mention the Manhattan residents who stayed behind locked doors, terrified at leaving their buildings.

In my experience, the “light touch,” or giving a disorderly mob “time to vent,” never works.

Especially in the social-media age, when anyone with a cellphone can put out a tweet and have hundreds of like-minded people converge on a location within minutes.

I spent the first seven years of my NYPD career in the Tactical Patrol Force, which was trained in disorder control and would respond to major demonstrations and riots (of which there were plenty).

On too many occasions, my unit would board our bus and head to a trouble spot, only to be told we were going to be kept “on reserve” while higher-ups negotiated with the law-breakers.

Those talks rarely resolved anything.

Too often we sat frustrated, while fellow officers at the scene dodged rocks and bottles and put out signal 10-13s — “officer needs assistance” calls.

“What are they waiting for? You know we’re eventually going to go in?” we’d ask. We knew disorder is like cancer; if not addressed early, it will spread.

It’s a lesson college administrators and government officials would be wise to learn.

Peaceful protest is an American right, guaranteed by the First Amendment.

But once protesters cross the line, deny others their rights, threaten them, engage in destruction of property and violence, negotiations should end — and the police get called in.

This is what finally happened Tuesday with the NYPD’s successful operations at Columbia and City College.

That action should have come much sooner.

But credit Mayor Adams, Police Commissioner Edward Caban and the Finest, who answered the call.

Seeing the always outstanding Emergency Service Unit gaining entry, followed by the Community Response Team’s scaling the Mobile Adjustable Ramp System to gain access to Columbia’s Hamilton Hall second floor, adroitly bypassing the first-floor barricades, had me thinking the NYPD — the one I knew and served — was back.

The taking down of the Palestinian flag on the CCNY’s campus flagpole and raising of the American flag also brought a smile, I’m sure, to many an old cop’s face.

It sure did to mine.

Great job, guys and gals!

Bob Martin is the author of “Bronx Justice” and “9/11Remembered — Twenty Years Later.”

Read More