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Tags: police | chokehold | killing | sensitivity | training

Ex-NYPD Detective: Require More Sensitivity Training for Cops

By    |   Thursday, 04 December 2014 06:40 PM EST

Police and the people they serve and protect walk the same streets, but exist in parallel worlds — a divide that must be bridged with more sensitivity training for officers and more willingness by citizens to not excuse crime in their communities, a retired New York detective told Newsmax TV on Thursday.

"Sometimes there are two different civilizations: There's the cop civilization and then there's the civilian civilization," retired NYPD Det. Sgt. Wally Zeins told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner. "We have to be able to put them both together where the civilians can speak fluent cop and the cops can speak fluent civilian."

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Zeins was reacting to a New York grand jury's decision on Wednesday to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold-related death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner.

It was the second intently watched grand jury in recent days to clear a white police officer in the death of a black man this summer, after violent protests shook Ferguson, Missouri, in reaction to the Michael Brown case, reopening old wounds in the uneasy relationship between police and black Americans.

Protests in New York in the Garner case have proven to be far more peaceful, and Zeins praised the conduct of police officers in dealing with throngs of demonstrators across the city on Wednesday night.

But communities still have to figure out how to quell decades-old tensions between police departments and African Americans.

Zeins argued that Garner, who was 43, bore some responsibility for the July 17 confrontation — captured on video — that ended in his death. He was approached by officers who suspected him of illegally selling looses — individual cigarettes out of the package — on the street.

He said that Garner "escalated to resisting arrest, which is crime," and that Pantoleo and the other officers present "had to use as much necessary force" as was required to subdue Garner, a tall and heavyset man who — unbeknownst to the officers — had asthma.

Garner, in the video, is forced to the ground with Pantoleo's arm around his neck, and is seen and heard telling the officers that he cannot breathe.

"They were trying to put handcuffs on him," said Zeins. "They were trying to put him in their control and they were having a hard time."

Pantoleo remains under NYPD internal investigation.

On Thurdsay New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a retraining program for all city police, but did not spell out details, the New York Times reports.

Zeins, the former commander of the Manhattan detectives squad, said that one element should be more sensitivity training for officers.

"When I was on the job we had sensitivity training dealing with the gay community in Greenwich Village," said Zeins.

"We need to have the police, the community, the media [involved]," he said, "and we also have to educate — bring in the educators [so] that we all are on the same page. Because what we have now is a seesaw where the up part is irrational, the bottom part is rational.

We've got to get that seesaw in the middle, where everyone is rational in understanding the rules and procedures."

He called on community leaders who have criticized police conduct in the New York and Ferguson cases to speak out against neighborhood crime "with the same passion."

"We have to be on the same page," said Zeins.

He also said that in policing, a spirit of cooperation with communities has to be instilled at the very beginning — "and that goes all the way back to the Police Academy," he said.

"It has to be done before the cops hit the street," said Zeins. "It has to be done in the selection process for employment in the police department. And the name of the game is, you have to all work together."

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Police and the people they serve and protect walk the same streets, but exist in parallel worlds — a divide that must be bridged with more sensitivity training for officers and more willingness...
police, chokehold, killing, sensitivity, training
Thursday, 04 December 2014 06:40 PM
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