NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio is responding to demands for police reform by announcing two initiatives that he says will put the city on the road to rebuilding trust between the NYPD and the communities they serve.
Sustained protests demanding change in the way the NYPD polices the city have Mayor de Blasio dancing the two-step — heralding two actions that, he hopes, will show that after six and a half years at the helm he really, really, really means to fix things this time, reported CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
“Body-worn cameras are only as powerful as the transparency that comes with them,” he said during his daily press briefing.
“When people see this kind of transparency, it will build trust,” he added.
The mayor is talking about his decision to acquiesce to demands from activists to release body camera footage – worn by two thirds of the department. It will involve all controversial incidents:
- Any time a cop fires his gun
- When a cop fires a taser that results in death or bodily injury
- When the use of force results in death or injury
Until now, the footage was only released when ordered by the commissioner.
The footage will first be shown to family members of those involved, and then posted for the public online.
“We have to get to the day where people see a police officer there to protect them and have faith. The faith has to be mutual; it has to be that everyone understands there is a responsibility to each other,” said de Blasio. “But accountability and transparency are what bond that together.”
The move comes after Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he was disbanding the department’s Anti-Crime Unit – undercover cops — long regarded as the cowboys of the department. They have been involved in some of the NYPD’s most controversial incidents, including the Eric Garner chokehold case.
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Each precinct has undercover anti-crime officers who patrol in unmarked vehicles with specific assignments related to crime spikes. Shea said due to the nature of their work, officers in those units tend to be involved in more police-involved shootings.
“This is a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city,” Shea said.
City Council finance chair Daniel Dromm tells CBS2 the moves are not enough – not by a long shot.
“We need a whole culture change in the NYPD. Taking those anti-crime police officers and placing them in other jobs is not going to change the culture,” Dromm said.
Looking to chop at least $1 billion from the NYPD budget, the councilman says the reforms should also include a management shake up.
“I’m not at the point yet to call for a new police commissioner, but there definitely needs to be a shake up within the brass,” Dromm said.
Kramer asked the mayor if his strategy is to enact reforms to reduce the size of the NYPD budget cuts sought by the City Council.
“The fact is you hit the nail on the head. A lot of the most important things we can do. are about how we approach policing. We need to change the reality of policing much more deeply, connect it more deeply to the people of the neighborhoods, provide a lot more transparency and accountability – these are the most important foundations to the bigger changes we have to make,” he replied. “To me, the bottom line is safety. We have to be a safe city.
“As we look at each and everything that the NYPD does and we look at what it’s future should be, we start from the perspective of ‘What will keep us safe, but will also lead to greater fairness and equality?’”