About 22,000 police officers will take part in a three-day retraining program in order to "enhance community and police officer safety," following a grand jury's decision on the death of Eric Garner at the hands of a cop.
Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the retraining courses at a press conference this afternoon, where he was joined by Mayor de Blasio and Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker. The training will take place at the Police Academy in Queens, and 16,000 police officers, 2500 sergeants, and 900 lieutenants will take part in the program, which should be complete by June. The NYPD plans to change how officers understand and work with their communities, presumably in hopes of establishing more trust between cops and the people they're served with protecting.
"These changes are happening because the people demanded it," de Blasio said today. "This training is about the vast majority of officers who joined this profession because they want to help people...They deserve more training for the complexity of what they’re facing."
Bratton noted that the NYPD's office of internal affairs is now investigating Garner's death, though a grand jury chose not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put him in a fatal chokehold over the summer. Pantaleo is still suspended from the force, though with pay. "The ball is now in the police department's court," de Blasio said.
Last night's protests over the grand jury decision yielded 83 arrests, the majority of which were for disorderly conduct and obstructing vehicles. Only three people were charged with resisting arrest, and de Blasio lauded the NYPD for maintaining order. "We respect the right of protest, but we will keep order," he said.
The mayor also addressed criticism over comments he made yesterday about teaching his biracial son, Dante, how to interact with police officers. Though Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch claimed the statements made cops feel like they were "thrown under the bus," de Blasio rejected the assertion. "A lot of people feel fear. It's not that they should, it's that they do," he said. "We're trying to create dynamic where every young person of color understands officer is there to protect them and they feel respected. We aren't there yet."