Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.
Hours after landing in New York after his family excursion to Italy, de Blasio stood with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton at City Hall as both men admitted there was work to do while defending their first seven months on the job.
De Blasio said he came into office with a commitment to ending the "broken policy" and "overuse" of stop and frisk and improving the Police Department's relationship with communities.
"We have a lot more work to do, but I'm very appreciate of what's happened over the first seven months because you can see change on the ground," he said.
The mayor avoided answering whether he thought race factored into Garner's arrest, opting to wait for the investigations to bear out the facts. However, he matter-of-factly said race was "obviously" a factor and problem between police and communities in the last decade.
The mayor referred to the newest class of NYPD graduates and their training while repeating Bratton's commitment made shortly after Garner's death by what appears to be a chokehold, which were banned as police practice in 1993.
The mayor pointed to a more proactive Civilian Complaint Review Board, which is studying more than 1,000 chokehold complaints since 2009, and cooperation with NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau as well as the Staten Island district attorney's investigations.
"We are certainly focusing on something that the officers have been telling us in their surveys," Bratton said. "They want more training."
While what the new promise of training might look like remains unclear, the mayor and commissioner both argued that improved relations between community and police is a two-way street.
Bratton said that while police have an obligation to police constitutionally and respectfully "the public also has an obligation."
"That’s to submit to arrest when an officer has announced that he intends to arrest," the commissioner said. "And for the passerby, if you will, or the bystanders to not interfere with that process."
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