Tags: police | chokehold | eric garner

NYPD's Bill Bratton: Police Really Feel 'Under Attack'

By    |   Friday, 05 December 2014 11:09 AM

Police are "under attack," following the response to grand jury decisions in cases in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, involving the deaths of black men by white police officers, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"They are under attack from the federal government on down. And, they see it that way. Many officers. Not all officers, but many," Bratton said Friday. "In terms of policing — policing at the moment is under attack. It really is."

Story continues below video.

Bratton said there was a "strong difference of opinion" between Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association in New York City, and Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio, responding to the grand jury announcement there would be no indictment in the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island by police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, emphasized his own experience of worrying if his son, Dante, was safe, not only from crime and violence, but "safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors."

Lynch on Thursday said police officers felt they were "thrown under the bus" after de Blasio's Wednesday statements.

"They were out there doing a difficult job in the middle of the night, protecting the rights of those to protest, protecting our sons and daughters, and the mayor was behind microphones like this throwing them under the bus," Lynch said Thursday.

Bratton said that reaction to the grand jury decision included "a muting" of the perspective of police, "what they see," and "what they deal with every day," adding some "balancing would be appropriate."

"I get along with my unions very well. I understand that they have positions they take for their purposes, their needs. I work for this mayor. This mayor cares very much about the police that work for him. He cares very much for the citizens we're trying to protect," Bratton said.

In a video of the arrest, Pantaleo used what appeared be a chokehold on Garner after he resisted police officers. While the NYPD "issued a policy banning the use of chokeholds" in 1993, Bratton said there were "exceptions" for police to use the method.

"Exceptions can be many, in the sense that, was the officer involved in a struggle for his life? Was he in fear that his firearm was going to be taken away? Was it the only thing he could do to overcome the resistance?" he said.

Bratton defended the grand jury decision not to indict Pantaleo in Garner's death, because they "saw all the evidence, which none of us have seen."

"Those 23 people went into that room ... and made a decision based on that evidence. We're now all commenting about their actions, none of us having seen what they saw," he said.

Bratton said people were "tending to forget how bad (crime) was, and the work of the police" in changing that over the past "40 some-odd years."

"In the 1990s, police played a very significant role in turning around a tidal wave of crime that affected this country for 25 years. Now, this city is incredibly safer than it was, the country is much safer, the downward trends.

"The good news about where we are now and the questioning of how we got safer is that these debates are necessary. And, we're looking at everything we're doing very closely, our training, our hiring practices. So, out of all of this controversy, a lot of good will come," he said.

Some of those changes included "a series of reforms" that were already under way in the NYPD, Bratton said, including the training of new officers, "refresher training on tactics" for current policemen, a civilian advisory board, and new equipment.

"We are implementing new policies, body cameras, for example, new technology, where every police officer will get a smartphone within the next year," he said.

Bratton said he couldn't "talk to the specifics of the video" about the Garner case, due to an internal investigation his department was conducting about the incident to determine if Pantaleo violated policy.

He said because the criminal investigation took "precedence over my administrative," Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan had asked him not talk to his officers while it was under way. He said there was "no specific timetable" for the investigation.

"It depends on the amount of information we have to look at. There's almost 50 witnesses, based on what the grand jury looked at. Today we begin interviewing the police officers who we couldn't get access to at the request of the district attorney," he said.

Bratton said current U.S. District Attorney for New York Loretta Lynch, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Eric Holder for attorney general, was conducting the federal investigation "separate from mine," but that she had access to all of his information.

He predicted his inquiry would be done "long before hers."

Bratton said he was "going to be the judge" to determine Pantaleo's future with the department, and would make his decision based "on the results of that administrative review."

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Police feel like they are "under attack" following the response to grand jury decisions in cases in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, involving the deaths of black men by white police officers, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
police, chokehold, eric garner
Friday, 05 December 2014 11:09 AM
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