Gentile wants more cops using Tasers to subdue suspects
Councilmember also calls on mayor to hire additional police
At a time when thousands of New Yorkers are taking to the streets to protest a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, one Brooklyn council member is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to hire more cops and to let more officers use Tasers when subduing suspects.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said cops should have all of the tools they need at their disposal.
As the New York Police Department (NYPD) undergoes a sweeping top-to-bottom review to overhaul its tactics and training, Gentile, a former prosecutor who has served on the council since 2003, said he supports Commissioner William Bratton’s call to expand its use of Tasers.
The electronic shock devices are currently only available to a small number of NYPD units.
Gentile said he believes Tasers would provide cops with an important non-lethal option for subduing suspects while avoiding the close contact that could lead to serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
“Police officers should have state-of-the-art non-lethal tools at their disposal,” Gentile said.
Gentile said he also thinks there should be more cops on the streets. He called on the mayor to make hiring more police officers a top priority.
Gentile spoke out after de Blasio released his New York City financial plan update, a document that delineates the allocation of funds to the administration’s agendas. The update did not include an increase in the head count at the New York Police Department.
“There are 6,000 fewer police officers patrolling our streets today than on Sept. 11, 2001. Clearly there is a strong need to combat traditional neighborhood crime and to protect the city against terrorist attacks,” Gentile said. “The Bloomberg administration systematically reduced the size of the NYPD to save money and compensated by short staffing local precincts in order to do so. Indeed, I don’t recall the head counts in the precincts in my district ever being lower than they are today.”
Gentile, who received endorsements from all of the police unions in his re-election campaign in 2013, said the timing of his pro-cop statements, coming in the wake of the Garner protests, is purely coincidental.
“I’ve been saying this for over a year,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
Gentile also spoke out against the controversial stand taken by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) asking police officers to sign a letter dis-inviting the mayor and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to officers’ funerals.
The PBA launched a “Don’t Insult My Sacrifice” campaign on its website, www.nycpba.org, asking cops to sign the form letter. The mayor and council speaker have demonstrated a “consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve,” the letter reads.
But Gentile said it is “egregious to suggest that the mayor and the speaker not attend any police funerals.” The council member told the Eagle that the PBA’s stand constitutes “incendiary language that is not helpful in the discourse of the day.”
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