By Sadef Ali Kully
The monthly meeting for Community Board 12 in St. Albans started off the new year with the goal of pushing forward with new ideas that will help improve community life while police and resident tensions simmer in minority neighborhoods across the city.
“Our theme is P.R.E.S.S; perseverance, resolve, excellence, strength, and steady. We must press ahead and follow through – we must press,” said Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams before welcoming City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) to the podium.
The death of Eric Garner, who died while getting arrested in a chokehold position by a detective in Staten Island, was the catalyst for a change in policing methods after protests rocked the city streets. Lancman undertook the cause to present a legislative bill that would criminalize the use of the chokehold as the public debate continued on the relationship between minority communities and the NYPD.
A month following the burial of two police officers who were shot in a targeted killing in Brooklyn, Lancman has begun to address issues surrounding his bill to outlaw the use of chokeholds by police. He has spoken h community leaders in order to gain support for the legislation.
“The bodies of the brave policemen have been laid to rest and now is the time to move forward with policing in this neighborhood,” Lancman told the Jan. 21 meeting of CB12, which covers Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village, and South Jamaica.
Lancman co-authored with counsel Daniel Pearlstein the chokehold bill under which police officers would be charged and prosecuted for using chokeholds. Currently, under NYPD regulations, chokeholds are prohibited yet the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board recently released a report on an estimated 1,000 complaints about police officers using chokeholds and only several of the complaints were questioned. One complaint resulted in an officer losing vacation days. Lancman’s legislation would create a “new municipal offense of criminally negligent infliction of physical injury.”
In response to policing policies like stop-and-frisk and Broken Windows to target minor crimes, Lancman created the Committee on Courts and Legal Services at City Hall to create legislation to help New Yorkers navigate the legal system when they find themselves summoned for minor offenses and/or infractions within the courts.
“To put a legal system perspective on all of this, summons and minor arrests go into permanent records making future employment difficult. So ending stop-and-frisk and the Broken Windows policing, which overwhelmingly falls on neighborhoods of color, is important,” Lancman said. “It’s time to bring police and community relations back on the table.”
Ari Satti, spokesman for Lancman, said “it is an ongoing effort and as things die down, people will want to know what is happening with the [legislation].”
Community board members and local residents responded by nodding in agreement and murmured religious praises for the success of the bill.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to veto the chokehold bill in its current state. In response, Lancman is ready to make amendments to the bill and work the police community. In order for a bill to pass without the mayor’s support, the bill must have a certain number of council members’ signatures and votes to override the veto.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4546.