[Ed. – What could possibly go wrong?]
The Associated Press got an exclusive look at the New York Police Department’s three-day course that’s aimed at discouraging verbal abuse and needless physical force. The message to every one of the department’s 35,000 officers is, quite simply, keep cool.
Cynicism, condescension and complacency are a formula for escalating emotions that can put civilians – and officers’ careers – in harm’s way. As one instructor put it in a recent classroom session, “Once you put your hands on someone, you can’t go back.”
The instructors that day didn’t mention Garner, the unarmed black man from Staten Island whose videotaped death in a chokehold – a tactic banned by the NYPD more than 20 years ago – fueled loud protests against police. But the case hangs heavy over the retraining, as do the ongoing protests in Baltimore, where a black suspect died of a spinal cord injury after his April 12 arrest.
“We want to talk people into their cuffs,” said Lt. Suzanne St. Jacques, NYPD commanding officer for physical training and tactics. “We want to talk them down into compliance, de-escalate the situation. … The emphasis right now is the talk down before the takedown.”