Training on tap for NY officers after chokehold

AP News
Posted: Sep 08, 2014 9:17 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — New York police officers will get three days of annual training on how to properly use force following the chokehold death of an unarmed man this summer, Commissioner William Bratton said Monday.

The initiative is part of an effort to repair community relations and change the culture of the nation's biggest police department, Bratton said. It will begin with a pilot program in November with three precincts and will expand to include the 20,000 officers who regularly work patrol.

The three-day training will include how to talk to the public, how to de-escalate tense situations and how to use force, if necessary, Bratton said. Right now, officers receive only firearms training. The department also recently began testing body-worn cameras in five precincts.

"I'm fully confident that through partnership and collaboration with the community, we can uphold the law, protect human life and ensure the safety of the police and the public alike," Bratton said during a hearing on a New York Police Department review of its training procedures following the July 17 death of Eric Garner.

Bratton said he'll need at least $25 million in funding for additional instructors and overtime to cover posts as officers are trained. He also plans to put rookie officers in precincts with mentors, instead of funneling them into high-crime areas right out of the academy, so they can learn from fellow officers on how to police correctly.

To do this, Bratton said, the NYPD will need at least 1,000 more officers. Right now there are about 35,000 officers, well ahead of the nation's second-largest department, Chicago, which has about 13,000. Only a few months ago, Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio said they didn't need more officers.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who had suggested more officers were necessary, said Monday the council would work to give police "the resources they need to serve New Yorkers."

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, was confronted by police who said he had been selling loose, untaxed cigarettes near his home. In an encounter captured on cellphone video, a white officer placed Garner, who was black, in a chokehold, a move prohibited by the NYPD but not illegal. Garner, who was asthmatic, can be heard saying, "I can't breathe." The city medical examiner's office later ruled his death a homicide.

The death sparked a wave of outrage and protests. Garner's death and the shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri, of Michael Brown, who also was black, thrust police relations with minority communities into the spotlight.