Is this a watershed moment?

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Dousing police with water: Playful summer amusements or something sinister?

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Eamonn M. McCormack

So, what to make of New Yorkers dumping buckets of water on NYPD cops in four separate incidents?

Was this a series of playful summer amusements during a heat-scorched week or the beginnings of something sinister?

And what of the officers’ actions, or rather, inaction? They simply walked away. Were they afraid to make arrests, knowing they would be recorded on cellphones?

Did they fear a fatal confrontation like that of Officer Daniel Pantaleo with Eric Garner in Staten Island in 2014? Or did they exercise the “restraint” and “de-escalation” the Police Academy now teaches as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s neighborhood-friendly policing?

Whatever their intentions, the officers’ passivity has led to criticisms of cowardice and has subjected the NYPD to ridicule.

It also exposes a potential rift between the NYPD’s top uniformed cop, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, and Commissioner James O’Neill, a rift that could widen as O’Neill decides, probably in the next week or two, whether to fire Pantaleo following his departmental trial.

“Any cop who thinks that it’s all right, that they can walk away from something like that, maybe they should reconsider whether or not this is the profession for them,” Monahan said of the cops’ inaction.

O’Neill, though, sounded as if the incidents were no big deal. “Disrespecting the police was nothing new,” he told Fox News.

Yet it was Monahan’s words, not O’Neill’s, that resonated with former top NYPD officials contacted by NYPD Confidential.

“What’s next?” asked a former deputy commissioner, who spoke anonymously to address the mood among law enforcement after the incidents. “A bottle, a baseball bat? An emphasis on de-escalation is fine, but when it doesn’t work, I only hope they know how to protect themselves.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life,” said a second former deputy commissioner, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“There is an internal breakdown. It will take a long time to get it back. Cops will be asking, what is their role? Do they get back into their squad cars and come around only when there is a 911 call?”

Len Levitt