By Rory I. Lancman
It is time to pass my legislation banning police chokeholds, and for the mayor to commit to sign it.
While chokeholds are already completely prohibited by the NYPD’s rules — and have been since 1993 — they still continue to be used.
Earlier this month, the Daily News released a video showing a detective using a banned chokehold against a man after being called to address a routine noise complaint.
What stuck out about the incident was the ease with which the detective resorted to a chokehold at the least sign of the suspect’s objection to being handcuffed.
It is especially troubling that the officer who used a chokehold is a neighborhood coordinating officer, or NCO, tasked specifically with building stronger ties between police and the communities they serve.
These officers should be the most aware of the prohibition on police chokeholds and how incidents like these reverberate through neighborhoods, severing the fragile trust others are attempting to build.
Days after the Daily News first reported the incident, I was appalled to see the NYPD chief of department — the NYPD’s top ranking uniformed officer — defend the use of this banned chokehold, and falsely claim that the suspect “began to violently resist arrest.”
Excuses from NYPD leadership may help explain why last year the Civilian Complaint Review Board found persuasive evidence supporting 11 complaints of chokehold use, up from three the year before.
In 2017, another 31 allegations were made where the CCRB either could not determine whether a chokehold had been used or could not identify the officer involved.
In light of all this, we need my chokehold bill now more than ever.
Police chokeholds will not stop unless there is true accountability and transparency, which can only be accomplished through legislation.
My bill would make it a misdemeanor offense for an officer to use a chokehold while making or attempting to make an arrest.
Breaking the law would be punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Passing this bill will send a strong message to the NYPD: no more chokeholds.
While I will be pushing for the bill’s passage in the New York City Council, Mayor de Blasio should immediately throw his support behind outlawing police chokeholds. We should not have to wait for another tragedy for us to act.
We have the power to put a stop to police chokeholds and the mayor must finally lead on this issue.
Rory I. Lancman
City Councilman (D-Hillcrest)