New York, NY – Just days after the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) told its members to stick exactly to patrol policy when doing their jobs, New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief of Department Terence Monahan urged officers to ignore the union’s guidance.
“I’m going to tell you right now that is pretty bad advice,” Chief Monahan said on Friday, according to the New York Post.
“Anyone who is going to hesitate while they’re about to lock up a bad guy is endangering their own lives. We do not give criminals the upper hand in an arrest situation,” he said.
Tensions are high between the department’s administration and the rank-and-file in the wake of NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill’s decision to terminate Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the death of Eric Garner five years ago.
Garner was arrested by NYPD officers on July 17, 2014, after police stopped him for selling individual, untaxed loose cigarettes on a city sidewalk.
He resisted arrest and fought with officers who struggled to take the 350-pound man into custody.
In the process of subduing Garner, video taken by witnesses showed that Officer Pantaleo had his arm around Garner's neck and pressed his face against the sidewalk.
Garner repeatedly told officers “I can’t breathe,” a phrase that became a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter in the months that followed.
Officer Pantaleo later said he tried to use a “seatbelt maneuver” on Garner, and did not mean to put the much larger man into a chokehold.
Garner lost consciousness on the sidewalk, and died in the hospital an hour later from a medical emergency.
The autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him. The medical examiner declared it was a homicide.
A New York Grand Jury declined to indict on any criminal charges.
The federal inquiry dragged on for five years and ended in July with federal prosecutors deciding not to charge Officer Pantaleo.
An administrative trial judge recommended that the officer be terminated for using a chokehold against department policy, and the police commissioner took her recommendation.
In response, the PBA put out a list of guidelines for officers to follow in order to keep them out of trouble.
Union leadership said it had become obvious the officers did not have support from Commissioner O’Neill and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
But the chief of department strongly disagreed with the union’s advice and told officers that anything that caused a slowdown was a bad idea, the New York Post reported.
“This is not the time that we back down, that we walk away from doing our job. Doing what we do in this city to keep people safe,” Chief Monahan said.
Ironically, the PBA memo that the chief objected to specifically told NYPD officers to follow the police department’s policies as written.
“Be advised that neither your Police Academy training nor the current Patrol Guide procedures reflect the precedent established by this decision,” PBA President Patrick Lynch wrote in the memo after Officer Pantaleo was fired, a copy of which has been obtained by Blue Lives Matter.
The memo encouraged officers to “uphold our oath” and continue doing their jobs but reminded them “we must remain united to protect each other from the toxic political environment in which we are forced to work.”
In order to be in exact compliance with the patrol guide, officers will have to do a lot of things in a specified way that, in the past, was unofficially left to officers’ discretion.
“For every job involving a possible arrest situation, immediately request response by patrol supervisor and additional members to help control situation, pursuant to P.G. 221-02, ‘Use of Force,’” the PBA memo instructed officers in accordance with NYPD policy. “Await the patrol supervisor’s arrival before attempting to effect an arrest, except when immediate action is necessary to protect life and personal safety of all persons present (see P.G. 221-02).”
“Prior to effecting an arrest, confer with the patrol supervisor,” the memo said, and reminded officers to use their bodycams and “document in your memo book all instructions received from the patrol supervisor or other supervisors at the scene.”
The memo also reminded officers that anytime a suspect doesn’t voluntarily submit to being handcuffed, they need to request an Emergency Service Unit (ESU) before they can take that suspect into custody.
Officers should “attempt to isolate and contain the suspect” while they wait for ESU to arrives, as per NYPD official policy.
An NYPD official told Blue Lives Matter that following the department’s actual guidelines was going to cause a massive slowdown in officers’ response time to emergencies and keep the ESU, NYPD’s SWAT team, busy so they’re not available when they’re really needed.
“It’s very well known that for a majority of circumstances, the patrol guide is not followed to a T because you’d never get anything done,” the official told Blue Lives Matter. “It’s just too inefficient to do everything that way.”
The PBA memo to its members also reminded officers that they must call for an ambulance every single time there is a use-of-force, regardless of whether anyone has claimed to be injured.
“Do not transport the prisoner until he or she has been evaluated by EMS personnel,” the PBA wrote.
But Chief Monahan doesn’t agree with officers following NYPD policy to the letter and said so, the New York Post reported.
“My message is I don’t want my cops getting hurt because they hesitated and gave that criminal an upper hand,” he said.
“We’re telling cops if you’re going to make an arrest you don’t slow down,” Chief Monahan explained. “You made a decision. Someone is about to be arrested. They know you’re gonna’ arrest them. Don’t hesitate if that guy starts to resist you because that guy could be resisting you so he can reach for a weapon so he could do you harm.”
“So once that decision is made…you don’t hesitate you don’t stand back you have to go and make that arrest,” the chief instructed, completely ignoring official NYPD policy.