According to New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, officers will be retrained on how to talk to the public.
During a recent news conference with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a Harlem police precinct, Bratton referred to the retraining process as “verbal judo.”
“Cops in this city and indeed around the country get into more trouble with their mouths than they do with any of the tools they use,” said Bratton during the news conference. “We injure very few people in the course of making an arrest and interacting with them, but we do tend to injure a lot more people through our language, and so, the idea is to formulate new language for all of our officers that might help to diffuse a situation rather than escalate it.”
The new protocol would involve seven steps. The mayor explained each one during the news conference.
“Step one is whenever possible, whenever it makes sense, the officer politely introduces himself and provides name and rank,” said de Blasio. “Step two is to actively listen and attentively listen to the people they are encountering. Step three is keep an open mind to the information they are receiving. Step four is to be patient with the people they are serving.
Step five is to know the resources the NYPD has and other agencies that would be available to help people with their problems. Step six is to make every reasonable effort to address the needs of the people who have asked for help. And step seven is to make sure every encounter, whenever possible, ends on a positive note, so people know they have been served with that respect.”
With the mayor making it his mission to repair the relationship between the New York Police Department and the Black and Latino communities, activists and elected officials alike are praising the proposed change in protocol.
“Improving NYPD interactions with the public is a critical component to progressing police-community relations and ending abusive policing practices, and we are pleased it is something in which the de Blasio administration has expressed interest,” said Priscilla Gonzalez, a spokesperson for Communities Reunited for Police Reform. “Requiring officers to identify and explain themselves to the public during these interactions and requiring officers to obtain informed consent when seeking to conduct a search where there is no specific legal basis are two policies that have been proposed by Council Member Jumaane Williams and advocated for by Communities United for Police Reform.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams concurred with Gonzalez’s comments. In a statement, the former police officer said he saw Bratton and de Blasio’s announcement as part of a plan to erase previous wrongs done by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“It’s the first step toward healing the open wound left by the previous administration’s policing tactics,” said Adams in a statement. “Street interactions are the most basic interaction we have with law enforcement, and how they improve will be the best metric of how the NYPD is performing. A positive relationship between the police and the communities they serve will be a game changer in so many neighborhoods where animosity and distrust has hindered our city’s fight against crime.”
But Adams was quick to acknowledge the improvement in city safety that he feels the police are responsible for.
“I speak as both a NYPD veteran and an elected representative of my Brooklyn community when I say that policing in New York City is heading in the right direction; the fact that homicides have dropped close to 20 percent compared to this time last year bares that out,” said Adams.