Police Commissioner Bratton to City Council: NYPD can reform itself, new regulations unneeded

Associated Press

Police Commissioner William Bratton renewed his opposition on Monday to a set of proposed regulations on use of force and other policing issues, telling City Council members that the New York Police Department can reform itself.

New policies "are better achieved through collaboration and dialogue between the council and the department, and among the various city agencies and community stakeholders, rather than through legislation," Bratton said at a hearing held by the council's Public Safety Committee.

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Bratton argued that the legislation would create a superfluous layer of oversight that's already provided by the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD, a federal monitor imposed in a settlement of a lawsuit over the stop-and-frisk strategy and an independent civilian review board that's been given broader investigative powers.

The commissioner labeled nine bills that would outlaw police chokeholds, put restrictions on street stops and require greater disclosure of police records as largely unnecessary, prompting City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson to comment, "I see we're batting 0 for 9."

Much of the proposed legislation came in response to the police chokehold death of Eric Garner and to the NYPD's widespread use of street stops to fight crime. Critics say the measures are needed in part to repair relations in communities of color where the department is viewed as overaggressive.

The bill that would make using chokeholds a misdemeanor isn't needed because the department already bans the maneuver, Bratton said.

"We firmly believe that this prohibition should remain a matter of policy rather than become, on its face, a crime," he said.

Bratton also challenged bills that would require officers to identify themselves to people they stop and inform them they can refuse to be searched, saying the NYPD has already answered concerns by drastically cutting back on the stops and implementing better training.