De Blasio Opposes Criminalizing Police Chokeholds

NEW YORK (AP/Hamodia) -

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton are opposing a measure that would make police chokeholds a crime.

The proposed legislation making chokeholds a misdemeanor offense was introduced Thursday by Councilman Rory Lancman in response to the July death of Eric Garner, who was being restrained by police.

The legislation faces an uphill battle without the mayor’s support.

De Blasio says the matter should be covered by department policies, which Bratton says are sufficient.

A chokehold is against NYPD policy but is not a crime.

In related news, the Council’s progressive caucus on Thursday introduced legislation they said would improve frayed relations between the police and minority communities by requiring officers to identify themselves during stops and then inform the people they confront of their right not to be searched if there’s no probable cause.

The bill, dubbed The Right to Know Act, requires officers to hand over business cards with their name, rank and command following stops that don’t lead to arrests or summonses. It also requires them to articulate a suspect’s right not to consent to a voluntary search and create a record in writing or by audio recording of a person’s consent to a search and knowledge they can withdraw it at any point.

Suspects cannot refuse searches if police observe suspicious behavior or crimes or if they have warrants.

The president of the powerful Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, called the law “unnecessary” and “ridiculous.”

“The Council’s meddling and uninformed proposals will prevent police officers from taking the actions that they reasonably believe they should to secure the situation in encounters with potentially armed and dangerous suspects,” Lynch said in a statement. “These proposals will endanger both the police and the public alike.”

Lynch added that he worried that “the negative anti-police message that this out-of-control City Council consistently sends is a disincentive to pro-active policing that will leave cops standing on the corner like potted palms. The political posturing by this Council is dangerous and destructive.”

De Blasio said on Wednesday he has concerns the proposed bill will be “undermining the ability of law enforcement to do its job.” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she will review the bill before deciding whether she supports it.