#Mayor Bill de Blasio backs controversial changes to chokehold law for police

#Mayor Bill de Blasio backs controversial changes to chokehold law for police

August 27, 2020 | 2:33pm | Updated August 27, 2020 | 3:02pm

Mayor de Blasio said amending the city’s new chokehold ban would provide cops with clearer guidance and help address the city’s surge in shootings.

“I think there have been honest questions and concerns about what police officers can and cannot do and we need our police officers to have clear instruction,” de Blasio said at a remote City Hall press briefing Thursday.

“There’s a growing recognition a better balance needs to be struck so we can continue the work of reform, but also make sure we’re fighting back against this horrible gun violence were seeing,” de Blasio added.

The City Council is looking to tweak a portion of the law that was signed by the mayor just last month after NYPD officials and unions said the ban makes it more dangerous for officers to do their jobs, sources told The Post.

The changes will affect the part of the law that makes it a crime for an officer to apply pressure to someone’s diaphragm.

The revisions come as arrests have plummeted by nearly half while shootings have almost doubled, suggesting cops may be participating in an unofficial work slowdown to protest the reforms.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson insisted during his own press briefing Thursday that the amendment was not related to an NYPD slowdown.

“I don’t think these things are are connected in an away,” Johnson said.

“I wouldn’t link action the Council took on a chokehold law and connect it to gun violence,” he said.

But Councilman Donovan Richard (D-Queens), the chair of the public safety committee who’s leading the effort to change the bill, said an NYPD slowdown has “absolutely” contributed to the crime spike.

“I do believe there seems to be a slowdown because of the diaphragm portion of the bill. Based on the science and what I’m seeing on the ground theres a slowdown,” Richards said.

He said the changes are meant to push the cops back into action.

“They should get back to work. They better,” he said about police officers.

Police unions say they’ll accept nothing short of a full repeal.

“That won’t happen, because the Mayor and City Council have no intention of actually fixing this problem,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Wednesday.

“They are content to blame cops for the mess they created. If they wanted us to be able to do our job safely and effectively, they would never have passed it in the first place,” Lynch said.

Backers of the original bill are also unhappy with the proposed changes.

Police at the scene where a woman was shot on W170th Street near Aqueduct Avenue on August 27.
Police at the scene where a woman was shot on W170th Street near Aqueduct Avenue on August 27.Christopher Sadowski

“The Chokehold Law passed 47-3, was signed by the Mayor just last month, and there hasn’t been a single example of an officer being unfairly prosecuted or unable to arrest a suspect,” Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) said in a statement.”

“So if as reported the positional asphyxiation part of the bill is amended to require a showing of recklessness and physical injury when, contrary to NYPD Patrol Guide guidance, an officer sits, kneels, or stands on a suspect’s chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm, in order to appease a police union work slowdown, it will eviscerate not just the law itself, but the rule of law and the legitimacy of the City Council as an institution capable of overseeing the NYPD,” Lancman said.

A council insider told The Post the amendment process is a “mess.”

“Now you have members who believe if it’s going to upset the police reform people and the police you have a bill without constituents,” the source said.

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