With an estimated price tag of $35 million in overtime pay, some 22,000 police officers will now be enrolled in a three-day “retraining” course to brush up on defense tactics, communication skills and lessons in the foundations of policing.
After meeting with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton yesterday at the department’s new $750 million Police Academy, on Ulmer Street and 28th Avenue in College Point, the Mayor observed the new police-retraining course firsthand.
“Some fundamental questions need to be asked, and rightfully so, about how we respect people’s rights and how we reduce the use of force in relationship between police and community,” de Blasio said. “The tragedy is raising a lot of tough questions, but there is tremendous resolve here in this city to answer those questions, to get it right.”
Garner, a father of six, was killed on July 17 after Pantaleo used what appeared to be a banned chokehold restraining method after responding to reports that he was selling unlicensed cigarettes in the area.
Police reported that just 83 arrests were made the night before as thousands rallied along major thoroughfares and bridges in the city in response to the decision made by the grand jury on Wednesday. None of the arrests were acts of violence, according to reports.
“A lot of strength was shown, and when necessary arrests were made,” de Blasio said, praising their collaborative effort in allowing peaceful protest. “That’s an example of how this city respects their right to raise voices.”
Looking towards the future, Michael Julian, the NYPD’s newly appointed Deputy Commissioner of Training, explained that the new course will help address one facet of police training that was never taught in entry level courses; how to deal with “people who are not cooperating.”
“Now we’re teaching them little tricks of how to break that line in the sand when someone doesn’t want to cooperate,” Julian said. “We’re teaching those techniques and they’re understanding them.”
In addition to instructing on safer ways of physically restraining someone who resists arrest, Julian explained that the department also intends to instill better communication skills.
“We often bring in intermediaries,” he explained, suggesting a hypothetical case that would allow a suspect’s family member to interject in a hostile situation to reduce the tension. “We have to be more human.”
Commissioner Bratton explained that while the three-day course is brief, it is the most affordable option for the largest police force in the country.
“This is a combination of exterior and interior interest and need,” Bratton said, explaining that many officers have previously suggested a retraining initiative for their colleagues.
He added that the course, expected to conclude by June 2015, is just the beginning, as many new training opportunities will begin with the opening of the new facility. Mental evaluations are also on the agenda, with 5,500 officers expected for initial enrollment.
“This is not a one-shot affair as we go forward each year,” he said of the three-day class. “The needs of the evolution of policing will be met with that.”