NYPD Officers Call Re-training in Wake of Eric Garner Death a 'Waste of Time'
A majority of New York police officers called the re-training program they were ordered to undergo after the death of Eric Garner a “waste of time”, according to the New York Post.
Garner, 43, died in July after being placed in a chokehold, a move that is banned under police rules, by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. After a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, sparking national protests, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to retrain the entire department, emphasizing tactics such as de-escalation and improving communication between officers and citizens.
Relations between the NYPD and the mayor deteriorated in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of two officers in Brooklyn in December, with many officers angry with De Blasio for supposedly siding with protesters against perceived police brutality.
“It’s been a big disappointment on the backs of the city because they’re paying for this course,” the Post’s source reportedly said of the training.
The official said his information was based on a review of 2,000 officer surveys completed after the training program. So far, 4,000 of the department’s officers have undergone such training; another 16,000 will do so.
The entire encounter – from Garner resisting arrest nonviolently to the officer locking his arm around Garner’s neck to Garner’s final words: “I can’t breathe” – were captured on video. Despite this, no indictment was returned. His family is supporting a legal push by civil liberties groups to release the grand jury proceedings.
The three day re-training program was touted by the mayor and his police commissioner, Bill Bratton, who said it would be both cognitive and tactical. The officers were meant to learn new techniques to use on resisting arrestees rather than the forbidden chokehold.
“I think you’re going to see a very different reality after this training has been achieved,” De Blasio said in December. “This will protect our officers, it will protect live citizens. I have no doubt some tragedy will be avoided because of this training.” The official, however, told the Post the program included eight-hour lectures rather than hands-on training.
“Officers thought they were going to get some real hands-on, quality training on how to deal with a hostile prisoner or arrestee,” the source said. “They didn’t get that.”
The three sessions included a cultural sensitivity workshop, followed by a course on the “legitimacy of policing” and, on the last day, training on the “high-low takedown”, a tactic to be used on suspects.
“It’s more of a self-reflection kind of course – reflecting on how they can improve as police officers,” the official told the Post.
“There’s not enough tactical, hands-on training. This should be 100% hands-on training, not sitting in a classroom eating breath mints because it’s going to make you curse less.”