Big Win in Fight Against Police Brutality: NYPD to Announce Massive Sweeping Reform on Use of Force

In a massive win in the fight against police brutality, the NYPD is establishing a new set of guidelines for using and documenting force, along with a thorough tracking system to back it up.

Under the new policy, every police officer will be required to document every use of force, even if no arrest is made.  The system will shine a light on the everyday uses of force that aren’t necessarily fatal — such as beatings with batons, use of pepper spray and other actions that Police Commissioner William J. Bratton has previously described as “awful but lawful.”

These huge changes are expected to be announced by Commissioner Bratton on Thursday, according to a report from the New York Times.

Bratton told them on Wednesday:

“What we’re developing here could become the national template for how do you not only investigate all levels of use of force, but how do you report it in a way that it is transparent.”

The new rules, which will go into effect next year, also state that an officer will face formal discipline if they do not intervene and report when they see another officer using excessive force. They are also required to provide medical attention to anyone who requests it.

The department also plans to provide the police force with 900 new tasers, as the less-lethal devices were previously only carried by supervisors and officers from the elite Emergency Service Unit. This will provide another option for the police to consider before they deploy live ammunition on a suspect, and will hopefully lower the amount of police shootings — provided the officers are properly trained to use them.

There will also be new rules regarding when an officer can draw their service weapon, limiting it to when “an officer has to have an articulable belief there is a potential for serious physical injury.”

Since January 1, there have been at least 24 people killed by police in the state of New York, less than half of them had a gun when they were shot. In 2014, the NYPD alone recorded 79 times that their officers discharged their firearms, 35 of which involved an officer shooting at a suspect, 10 of which resulted in death.

With their 35,000 officers being required to fill out a Force Incident Report for every encounter that involves violence, officials expect that they will obviously see an increased number of forcible episodes, but they will be able to better understand them.

Under the new reporting system, they will be forced to document the race of those involved as well as their perceived justification for their actions. The department will then analyze these cases and provide an annual report to the public.

“This is reflective of what Mayor de Blasio has been insistent on,” Bratton told the NYT. “With transparency comes public understanding and with public understanding comes public support. And I happen to believe the same thing.”

Bratton claims that force was only used in 2 percent of arrests last year, however, 3 percent of arrests included charges of resisting which proves that force is not always reported.

The New York Times, like many others, remain skeptical still, noting:

“How accurately officers will fill out the new forms is an open question. Episodes around the country have shown officers’ accounts — as well as those of witnesses — betrayed by video footage.”

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