NYPD commissioner goes after the New York Post

Bill BrattonREUTERS/Shannon StapletonNYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton speaks to the media after a NYPD swearing-in ceremony for new recruits at Queens College in New York January 7, 2015.

New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton had some harsh words for the New York Post when he made a speech Tuesday morning in Jamaica, Queens.

Speaking at a local church before a largely non-white audience, Bratton addressed racial tensions in the city that followed the police-involved chokehold death of an unarmed African-American man Eric Garner, last summer.

After admitting that some of the worst moments in black history wouldn’t have happened without the police, Bratton went back to defending his department, taking the opportunity to set the record straight about a “retraining” program which the New York Post reported some officers call a “waste of time.”

“Training to date has gone very well,” Bratton said, adding that “the Post does not like this mayor and anything that is associated with him.”

Much of the audience at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York applauded.

One day after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the officer responsible for choking Garner, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 22,000 officers would complete a three-day program on tactics like deescalation and interacting with the mentally ill. The program set the city back $US35 million. De Blasio, a Democrat who appointed Bratton, has been the subject of critical coverage in the Post’s staunchly conservative editorial pages.

However, according to the Post, an unnamed “high-ranking NYPD official” said 80% of cops called the program a “waste of time,” and many fell asleep in their seats.

Instead of acting out real-life situations, the official reportedly claimed cops sit for two days of lecturing, including a cultural-sensitivity workshop called “Blue Courage,” and learn alternative techniques to chokeholds on the third. The Post reported some of the training suggested officers should close their eyes or eat breathe mints to calm down in tense situations.

“[The Post] had a single source,” Bratton fired back Tuesday morning. “Let me give you the truth of the evaluations they have gone after so far.”

De Blasio made similar criticisms of the Post story at a press conference on Monday.

Bratton went on to give the results of an internal poll that he said was conducted by the department:

  • 60% of participants “agreed or strongly agreed” the program teaches minimum force
  • 70% said the program improved their “ability to manage conflict in the streets”
  • 77% would recommend the program to another police department

The three-day program, in its inaugural year, will continue annually and increase to five days, including firearm training, Bratton added.

“There’s not a program in the country that will ultimately match what we’re going to do,” he said.

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