New York Police Department, or as its widely known, the NYPD, is touted to be one of the finest police forces in the world. However, the organization holds a dark secret that routinely rears its ugly head.
New York’s cops may be considered great at their jobs, but often their strong-arm tactics result in injuries — and sometimes even death. One of the most notorious of maneuvers is simply referred to as the chokehold, and NYPD officers are alarmingly pretty liberal at this oft-lethal technique.
A chokehold, as defined in the NYPD’s use-of-force policy, is “any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.” According to the NYPD Patrol Guide, the use of chokeholds against civilian suspects is illegal. This has been the case for more than 20 years.
However, a report released recently by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) revealed that, between July 2013 and June 2014, the CCRB received 219 chokehold complaints, the highest number seen since the period between 2006 and 2010, when over 200 chokehold complaints were being filed annually. Essentially, 7.6 out of every 100 use-of-force complaints were for chokeholds.
The report was commissioned this past July, following the death of 43-year-old Staten Island resident Eric Garner, whom NYPD officers placed in a chokehold while trying to book him for selling untaxed cigarettes. Owing to video footage, the judge was eventually compelled to rule that Eric’s death was indeed a case of homicide — a direct result of being put in a chokehold.
However, such a ruling is certainly one-off, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s pandering reaction to Garner’s death was to announce that he’d be retraining the entire NYPD in acceptable use-of-force practices when engaging with a suspect, reported CNN.
Interestingly, though shrugging off civilian complaints and letting officers off the hook is routine and systematic in New York City, the practice of administering chokeholds is limited to a group of abusive cops who perpetually dodge disciplinary action.
The CCRB report found that half of the officers who had current chokehold complaints filed against them have a history of six or more misconduct complaints in the past, while a quarter of them have more than 10. All included, the 554 officers involved in chokehold complaints have had an average of seven misconduct complaints filed against them.
What’s alarming is that instead of taking stricter action against cops who put people in chokehold, notwithstanding their condition, the law has now been revised to actually protect the cops. Under the revised law, civilians hoping to register complaints must now be able to prove that the chokeholds they endured resulted in actual, sustained interference with breathing.