Amid concerns about excessive force, the New York Police Department unveiled a new program last week Thursday to document any and all physical encounters officers have with the public and to discourage using force in the first place.
Under the new policy, the department won’t wait for a death or serious injury or an allegation of abuse to initiate an inquiry, Assistant Chief Kevin Ward said at a news conference.
“If we use force, we will document it,” said Ward, who’s spearheading the effort. “We will investigate it.”
But the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents officers, said that adding more paperwork and second-guessing to an overworked, understaffed police force was a “formula for disaster.”
“No amount of new training or additional paperwork will make necessary force that is lawful and properly used by police officers acceptable to those who want to return to the hands-off, reactive policing strategies that sent crime soaring in the past,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.
Police officials likened the approach to one they credit with dramatically reducing instances of when officers fire their guns. Those shootings totaled 79 in 2014, a record low.
According to a summary, the new guidelines will emphasize “the duty of all members to protect human life, including people in their custody” and promote the use of verbal techniques to head off a physical encounter.
The measures were announced the same day the city’s inspector general, Philip Eure, released a report faulting the NYPD for not doing more to combat excessive force. At a separate press briefing, Eure told reporters that compared to some other big-city police departments, the NYPD “was living a little bit in the Dark Ages with respect to its use-of-force policies.”