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Queens Chronicle

Don’t let one tragic death impede law enforcement

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Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:26 am, Thu Jul 31, 2014.

While the death of Eric Garner in police custody is a tragedy that must be fully investigated to see if it warrants criminal charges or at least disciplinary action, it should not be exploited to stir up fear and division among city residents. Nor should it be used as an excuse to attack yet another of the Police Department’s most successful tactics. Yet that’s exactly what appears to be happening.

Garner died last Thursday in Staten Island while resisting arrest for allegedly selling illegal, single cigarettes. One of the several officers trying to take him into custody apparently used a chokehold, a violation of Police Department policy. An asthmatic, overweight man, Garner told the cops he couldn’t breathe, but they didn’t seem too concerned about that. Neither did the Emergency Medical Service personnel who responded. Garner died where he fell.

In response, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton correctly ordered a review of how police are trained to take people into custody. He says he will oversee the analysis himself, observing the training firsthand. He also put the chokehold officer and a second one on modified duty as the incident is investigated. The same was done to the EMS personnel.

Garner’s death is being probed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose agents have already spoken to Bratton, as a prelude to any charges that may be brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office (which, incidentally, just demonstrates that the NYPD had no need for the new inspector general position recently thrust upon it by the City Council. Whatever investigation the IG may do isn’t really important compared to one by the FBI that may lead to federal charges).

Of course the Rev. Al Sharpton and other “civil rights” leaders are out there protesting Garner’s death. The deceased was a black man. The activists never protest black-on-black crime, which is far more prevalent than police brutality and results in far too many murders in the city — though they do occasionally lead a march decrying violence in general. But we already know what to expect of the likes of Sharpton and groups such as Communities United for Police Reform.

Notice how there's no outrage from this crew when a rookie female cop gets her teeth knocked out by some thug in Harlem, as happened last Sunday, when she and her partner tried to bust him for smoking pot. Guess they shouldn't have had the nerve to seek an arrest for such a minor crime, so she deserves it, right Rev. Al?

What’s more disturbing is when elected officials jump on the same bandwagon. Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn, for one, has likened Garner’s death to those of other black people wrongly killed by police, such as Amadou Diallo. But Diallo wasn’t resisting arrest and didn’t die in part due to his health problems, like Garner; he was shot by officers who mistook his phone for a gun in the dark. The comparison is invalid, and only serves to raise tensions.

Meanwhile many of the activists are also seeking to rein in the police and let people get away with relatively minor crimes like selling illegal cigarettes. They’re attacking the NYPD for adhering to broken windows theory, the concept that says that if lesser crimes are allowed to go unchallenged, they create an atmosphere of lawlessness and lead to bigger ones. It’s absolutely been proven to be true, despite the critics’ denials — nowhere more so than in this very city, under this very police commissioner, back in the 1990s. It’s a key reason the murder rate fell from its high of 2,245 in 1990 to fewer than 340 last year.

Police critics in and out of government forced the city to announce it was drastically reducing the use of stop and frisk to pat down suspicious people for weapons, and the result is this year’s rise in shootings. Now they want to allow relatively minor crimes such as the one Garner allegedly committed to go unaddressed. Bratton refuses to let that happen. He knows the way to respond to this incident is to investigate it and discipline or bring charges against the officers if warranted. It’s a good thing he’s in charge.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • jaye4412 posted at 4:51 pm on Thu, Jul 31, 2014.

    jaye4412 Posts: 12

    "One Tragic Death"...
    Sorry, it's not just one.
    With people of color, in our communities, this is a reccuring theme which plays out time, and time again.
    And the results are always the same. Rhetoric, outrage, and talk of reforms. And surprise, surprise, it happens again. And again. And again. Now, I'm not going to sit here behind my keyboard and pretend to have the answers to all of the problems with policing communities of color. But, the one thing I can take from my many years of living on this earth is that respect goes a long way. And this works both ways.
    Policeman in communities of color see themselves as an occupying force. Gone are the days when beat cops knew the people in the community, when cops actually patrolled the neighborhoods. Now, they ride by in RMP's, looking to pounce on anyone, and anything. And the people of these neighborhoods need to show a little more respect, and common sense when dealing with these officers, especially the younger folks.
    I can sit here, as can many others, and give many opinions.
    But one thing I can say for sure: Until a level of RESPECT is had among all parties, these incidents will continue to happen. History has already proven this...

  • CleanUpJamaicaQueens posted at 11:45 am on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    CleanUpJamaicaQueens Posts: 118

    Alex Vitale commented "overpolicing of communities of color needs to be dialed back"

    Do you even live in a community of color? I do not just live in a mixed community, I live in a community of mostly black and I can tell you first hand the amount of nonsense in at least Jamaica (amount of shootings/killings/drug dealing on corners and in front of delis) that goes on every day. The thing that needs to NOT stop is scaling back over policing in those communities where crime is very high. My, what would happen if you did that here. It sometimes is anarchy as it is, I could only imagine.

    Being a liberal, it is thinking like this from my fellow liberals that drive me crazy, especially when they do not even live in such communities.

    So tell me your solution?


  • Alex Vitale posted at 7:56 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Alex Vitale Posts: 1

    I for one most certainly did decry the injury of that officer while on Inside City Hall on NY1 Tuesday night. A breakdown in police community relations is bad for the community and bad for the police. Many forward thinking police leaders know that the overpolicing of communities of color needs to be dialed back. Even the PBA has been in favor of reducing stop and frisk encounters.

  • CleanUpJamaicaQueens posted at 5:03 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    CleanUpJamaicaQueens Posts: 118

    Thankfully, the media speaking with sense and being truthful and not swayed by emotion.

    Yes, what happened was tragic and all parties including the victim Eric Garner were at fault. The police officer, Daniel Pantaelo, who used the illegal choke hold, the EMTs who did nothing to try and revive him, the other officers for not saying anything and Eric Garner who should have not said anything, like "leave me alone", "take your hands off me", etc. Time and time again, you do NOT argue or say anything to a police officer, everything can be handled afterwards with an attorney if need be.

    From the police officer's point of view, if Garner was actually selling loose cigarettes (which is illegal), they could have told him to leave the area and if they see him doing this again, he will be arrested. That might have solved the issue and more than likely would have. At least from the video it is not obvious if Garner was actually selling cigarettes at that time.

    The EMT should have immediately went into action to try and save this man.

    So this is just not completely one sided and all the police officer's fault, Garner's words/actions helped to orchestrate this fiasco.

    And also, let's not turn this into some racial issue, which it is not and which what some are trying to do. This is not a racial issue, just as the black man from Jersey City who shot and killed a rookie police officer in cold blood and the female police officer attacked by a black man was not a racial issue.

    This is also not the time to stop crack down on low level crimes such as what Garner was accused of, selling single cigarettes on the street. Yes, maybe a better approach to low level crimes, but not a complete ignoring of such crimes. A crime is a crime and should be treated as such.

    Living in a community of mostly color (Jamaica), where a shooting and a killing involving black on black crime happens weekly, makes me wonder where is all the outrage on that. Where is all the outrage at the high number of black man (and especially young black men) is a regular occurrence that has maimed the black community. It seems with that issue, most people stay silent, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who I have much respect for. But you cannot protest loudly when it is convenient just for you. Sure a police officer's job is "to protect and serve" the public and most do that every single day, but to confine such outrage to the police who were doing their job, yet not place some blame on the victim (a grown adult man of six children who has had several prior arrests and who could have handle himself in a much better way is an injustice of another kind.