All 35,000 or so New York City Police officers will undergo a new 3-day training session on how to deescalate confrontations and use force without injuring suspects.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced the training will begin in November with about 600 officers inside the new police academy in Queens.
Previously announced as part of the NYPD's response to the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner while in police custody, the training course is expect to be frequent, with comparisons made to the firearms qualification tests.
Currently, Bratton said, police only received training on use of force in arrests during their academy training.
At a City Council on Monday, the top cop said the department has never opposed more training.
"What's been lacking are the resources we devote to training and therefore the frequency in which our officers receive it," Bratton told lawmakers.
Preliminary figures estimate the training, additional staff and overtime costs to compensate for officers who are taken off duty to receive training stand somewhere between $25 to $30 million.
Officials offered scant details of the actual training, given that staff still needs to be hired. But advocates nonetheless hope that the transparency promised by the administration translates to public access to whatever curriculum ends up being used.
"Force can be deadly, as we saw in the Eric Garner case," said Candis Tolliver, an assistant advocacy director with the New York Civil Liberties Union. "We need to know what the training involves and how its may affect different communities."
Tolliver said she was already troubled by Bratton's defensiveness on the subject of chokeholds by police, which the medical examiner found played a role in Garner's death.
Bratton resisted discussing specifics the Garner case and only spoke broadly of the NYPD's position against chokeholds while protesting legislation banning the move.
At the hearing, Bratton refused to support any legislation that would make chokeholds illegal. He argued that the current NYPD policy banning the use of chokeholds since 1993 is enough of a deterrent.
Asked by City Councilman Rory Lancman what failure in police training has led to arrests with chokeholds, Bratton objected to the word "failure" and the "allegation" of more than 1,100 chokeholds complaints with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
"Chokeholds are not illegal," Bratton said. "They are not against the law."
Lanceman prodded the commissioner on if he would support a law that would ban chokeholds.
"I feel that department policies are sufficient, but if lawmakers want to try to make that against the law — good luck, but I won’t support it," Bratton said.
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