NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Riding a wave of public anger over police-involved killings, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a packaged of legislation Wednesday to overhaul the NYPD. It includes a chokehold ban that critics say will make it more difficult for officers to do their jobs.
For a mayor criticized for not doing enough to stop gun violence, it was a moment of stark symbolism, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported. He helped paint a Black Lives Matter mural in the Bronx before signing a package of bills reforming the NYPD.
“This is a powerful day. Powerful day for so many reasons. And it’s a moment when you can feel change coming,” de Blasio said.
The bills required the NYPD to develop standard disciplinary procedures, report the types of surveillance technology it uses, make public disciplinary complaints filed against officers and force cops to display badge numbers and display other identifying information. It also puts into law the right to record interactions with police.
“We fundamentally believe strikes the necessary and delicate balance where we support the work of the NYPD, we work collaboratively with them, but we also stand for reform,” City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson said.
“I believe we can find a way to hear those real concerns, to keep people safe, to retrain our officers the right way,” de Blasio said.
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One of the most controversial is the chokehold bill, which in addition to outlawing chokeholds prevents cops from sitting, standing or kneeling on a suspect’s back or stomach – the diaphragm.
In response, the State Troopers union is demanding state police remove troopers stationed in New York City.
“The criminal and civil liability I believe is too great for them performing their jobs,” NYSTPBA President Thomas Mungeer said.
“If the mayor were doing his job properly, we wouldn’t have these issues. If the DAs were prosecuting the laws, we wouldn’t have these issues. But what we’re seeing now is chaos in the city of New York,” Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said.
An NYPD training video obtained by CBS2 instructs cops on what is not allowed. It offers few solutions on what the cops can do, Kramer reported.
Police experts like John Jay College Professor Joe Giacalone, a former cop, says it could make cops afraid to make arrests or resort to other means to corral suspects.
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“You’re going to see a rise in the use of non-lethal devices such as Tasers, nightsticks, pepper spray. They’re just going to incapacitate people before they place handcuffs,” Giacalone said.
“I know many in the Police Department, including many I truly respect, are concerned. They’re concerned about some of the additional language about diaphragms. I’m signing the bill because I believe we can make it work,” de Blasio said. “They’re saying, in the effort to keep us safe, they want to make sure they can do their job our behalf, and I take that at as an honest concern.”
Privately, NYPD officials tell CBS2 they have begged the mayor not to sign that bill.
No one from the NYPD was present at the signing.