De Blasio, Bratton unveil ‘cutting-edge’ NYPD training program
New techniques to strengthen ties with community, in wake of Eric Garner outcry
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner William Bratton and other NYPD officials on Thursday unveiled a new, comprehensive three-day training program for recruits, current police officers and supervisors.
The new program is part of a series of reforms to strengthen relations between the NYPD and the community in the wake of public outcry over the death of Eric Garner after a confrontation with a police officer in Staten Island, and other highly-publicized confrontations involving police nationwide.
“Fundamental questions are being asked and rightfully so,” de Blasio said.
The program is rolling out “as we speak” in a new facility in College Point, Queens, de Blasio said, and will be completed in June.
The training program, which incorporates cutting edge social science research, is part of a series of reforms creating “a momentum of change” on top of a revamped stop-and-frisk policy, decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, the roll out of body cameras, and the involvement of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and Attorney General, de Blasio said.
It’s about “changing the dynamic in favor of cooperation and unity,” he said, telling reporters, “I think three days is going to make a huge difference and as the commissioner said, that’s not the ending it’s the beginning.”
Commissioner Bratton said the training would “strengthen resilience and officers’ ability to have positive social engagements and build trust through respect.”
The training would “refresh what many officers learned 15 years ago,” Bratton said. “There’s never been something on this scale.” He said that a special program would address engagement with emotionally disturbed individuals, and the department also hoped to have new firearms range.
First Deputy Commissioner Tucker said the idea is the give officers “more skills and ways to communicate and engage more effectively.” Officers receive tactical training as recruits, but not afterwards, he said.
He said the department has created a Partner Officer Program to assign senior officers with new officers.
Under the new program, Tucker said, yearly training will provide officers with the ability to focus on defensive tactics and on honing their skills.
The training will help officers de-escalate situations, learn how to better communicate with people, “handle issues of ego and give them ways to control adrenalin, which will … enhance the way they interact with community and build trust,” he said.
Training will also address training officers to exercise discretion, “so it doesn’t always have to end in arrest,” Tucker said. “Having to take people down is no fun. No one does it because you think it’s going to be fun.”
“We recognize we can do better, and we will do better,” he vowed.
BP Eric Adams, former cop, backs initiative
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a police officer for 22 years, backed Bratton and said the program was doable.
“The beauty here is the Police Department is a paramilitary institution. It can be done if the message is clear from the top.” He said that New York “is in the right place to deal with systemic problems in policing across the country.”
Adams emphasized the importance of things like “how an individual is treated when they call the Precinct, the languages used, and how situations are de-escalated.”
He said that these factors were inconsistent across the city. “They go from zero to a hundred in some parts, and moderate in others. It’s a disjointed symphony.”
“Think about airline pilots, teachers, doctors, getting trained all the time,” de Blasio said. “We haven’t done that enough with the people we train to protect us.” De Blasio called Bratton “the greatest change agent in the country. His notion is that this is a profoundly important profession and it needs to be treated as such.”
The city has committed $35 million this year to train 22,000 officers, starting with the current class of 918 officers. Funding will be evaluated going forward.
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