New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $35 million “smart policing” training program instituted after the death of Eric Garner has consisted mostly of “boring” lectures and little hands-on training, according to a source.
The New York Police
Department has reviewed half of the surveys filled out by the
4,000 police officers that have taken the three-day training
program, according to the New York Post’s “high-ranking
source,” and cops are reportedly calling the course a “waste of
The training includes two days of mostly lectures on policing
tactics and one day of training officers how to use a “high-low
takedown” to subdue suspects rather than a chokehold, the source
said. The NYPD began offering the training last year following
the incident in which Eric Garner, an unarmed black man accused
of illegally selling cigarettes, died after being placed in a
chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Many officers have fallen asleep during the sessions, the Post
added, as 16,000 others wait for their turn at the training.
Though maneuvers like the one used last July by Pantaleo on
Garner are illegal for local police to use, a recent review found that officers were quick to
employ the tactic and were rarely punished to a considerable
extent for doing so.
“Officers thought they were going to get some real hands-on,
quality training on how to deal with a hostile prisoner or
arrestee,” the Post source said. “They didn’t get
Eight-hour lectures at the NYPD’s $750 million academy in Queens
– equipped with a mock bank, bodega, and police cars – have put
some participants to sleep, he said.
“It’s three days, it’s boring and there’s no real
tactics,” the source stated. “They’re not putting them
in scenarios. Cops felt they would get more tactical training in
light of the Eric Garner case.”
The first day of the training focuses on a workshop called ‘Blue
Courage,’ which focuses on, according
to the organization’s website, “self-improvement, increased
engagement, stress-management, developing resilience, igniting
culture change, combatting cynicism, while improving overall
health and well-being.”
“It’s more of a self-reflection kind of course,” the
source said. “Reflecting on how they can improve as police
Post Garner NYPD ‘reforms’ Militarized protest unit Resisting
arrest = felony $3.2m for lawsuits Reduced oversight pic.twitter.com/FHx2L5YRXJ
— Adam Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) February
The second day consists of discussions about the “the
legitimacy of policing — why police officers do what they
do,” he said.
The third day is held at a gym, as officers are taught the
“high-low takedown” move that allows two officers to secure a
suspect – one from behind the legs and one in front of the torso.
“There’s not enough tactical, hands-on training,” the
source said. “This should be 100 percent hands-on training,
not sitting in a classroom eating breath mints because it’s going to
make you curse less.”
Mayor de Blasio announced the training initiative in December as
part of an initiative spearheaded with NYPD Commissioner Bill
Bratton’s stated effort to “refocus the department”
after Garner’s death and amid widespread community anger over the
NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program, which was deemed by a federal
judge to be a systemically racist policing strategy that violated
“To refocus it requires training and the enhancement of
skills that are so necessary to reach the commitment that we made
to the community to police fairly, impartially and safely,”
Bratton said in December.
The training program materialized after civil unrest and mass protests following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Pantaleo
despite video evidence of the encounter with Garner. This
decision came days after a Missouri grand jury chose not to
indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal
shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The subsequent
protests and demonstrations that broke out nationwide following
the dual decisions increased scrutiny on police aggression and
militarization, racial profiling, and the overall devaluation of
black lives in America.
Police officers and their supporters were at odds with de Blasio after the mayor offered
sympathy to protesters while denouncing the kind of aggressive
policing tactics that killed Garner. He said he shared the fears
of the city’s minority communities, as his son is half-black, and
that danger could come to his son both from criminals and
“the very people they (children) want to have faith in as
“The training that’s going to happen here in this building
will change the future of this city,” de Blasio said in December. “It will have not just an impact
on thousands of people, it will have an impact on millions of
people, because every interaction that every officer has with
their fellow New Yorkers after they are trained again will be
Two NYPD officers were
fatally shot later in December, exacerbating
divisions between the force and the mayor.