NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A coalition of 18 police unions in New York State is joining forces to strike down the city’s controversial chokehold ban.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, is unmoved.
Call it the long blue wall of opposition. New York City police unions, joined by MTA cops, Port Authority cops, court officers, even detective investigators assigned to a district attorney’s office, are filing suit to overturn the city’s chokehold law.
“No question, this is political grandstanding by the mayor and the City Council,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a police union spokesperson.
Sheinkopf dismissed the law as a misplaced attempt by officials to curry favor with anti-cop protesters.
It’s not the chokehold part of the law that the suit opposes – chokeholds are already banned by state law. But, the city ordinance prevents cops from sitting, standing or kneeling on a suspect’s stomach or back — the diaphragm.
“This presumes when a cop goes to lock somebody up, the person says, ‘Oh, yes. Please take me away.’ That’s ridiculous and the result is that police officers can effectively be arrested for doing their lawful jobs. That’s wrong and crazy,” said Sheinkopf.
“I think that we have gone too far. I think we have crossed the tipping point on many levels in terms of taking tools away from the police,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on July 16.
“I’ve spoken to all the district attorneys in the counties. They all don’t think they would be, ever be able to prosecute based on that portion, on the diaphragm,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said on July 16.
Kramer asked the mayor if he agreed with the NYPD’s assessment that parts of the law may be unconstitutional and should be overturned.
“I have not seen the lawsuit. I’m not speaking on a legal matter,” said de Blasio. “The NYPD has raised concerns, for sure, about that legislation and it was important to allow those concerns to be aired. But, in terms of how we follow through on it now, it is the law. Everyone needs to follow through on it.”
The move to overturn the law comes at the city continues to be plagued by gun violence.