New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the NYPD citing a pattern of excessive use of force from officers stemming from protests last summer.
“It’s certainly disappointing, you know, the NYPD is one of the most respected police departments in the world. They’re on the forefront of new and innovative techniques,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.
Some of those techniques used during the summer protests are what’s in question from the attorney general, calling some excessive.
The executive director for the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said these are all “untrue allegations” about excessive force being used by officers in New York City.
“They were faced with a very, very difficult situation last year for most of the year with repeated and continuous protests, some of them violent, some of them not. They did a fine job with crowd control and management of those protests and riots, and they’ve done nothing wrong,” Phelan added.
Spectrum News mentioned videos about encounters with NYPD officers during the 2020 protests and Phelan responded, saying “well, you can take three seconds of video and make it look like anything."
Phelan believes this lawsuit by the attorney general is continued politics and “anti-police behavior” by the state. Additionally, he said police officers support the rights of people to peacefully protest.
“I think that’s being missed in a lot of what’s going on. We support the right of people to peacefully protest. It’s your constitutional right. We support it 100 percent and we’ll protect people that are trying to engage in peaceful protests. When it gets to the point of violence, they put police in positions where they don’t have a lot of choices,” Phelan said.
Spectrum News also talked to the Rochester Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People about the lawsuit.
“We’re going to always stand for what’s right and we’re going to always fight on behalf of the people who feel that it is right to protest. Knowing that the NAACP, we did a lot of protesting in the past and you know we’re going to probably be doing more protesting in the future,” Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, president-elect of the NAACP Rochester Branch said.
The NAACP believes it’s important for the country, state, county, and city to look at policies that govern people in positions of power.
“No one should have been treated with excessive force when you’re talking about protesting, especially peaceful protest,” said Flagler-Mitchell.
The Rochester branch said it supports good police officers, and likes the message the lawsuit sends, but wants changes within the system.
“It will send a message; however, nothing will change if we don’t deal with the root of the issue itself, the way policing is designed, we must go back and look at who designing the curriculum and who is doing the training,” said Flagler-Mitchell.
Both the Rochester NAACP and New York State Association of Chiefs of Police believe there should be some coming together to truly make changes.
“We don’t want to dismiss the good men and women of law enforcement, it seems like police have been attacked because of some bad apples in the bunch. But however it does show us that the policing we see today is the same police that we’ve seen in the past,” said Flagler-Mitchell. “I hope that we can sit down with our elected officials, as well as with our police and sheriff to look at some of these policies and make change.
“Really where we got to get to is away from politics and somehow get to reality, where we deal with things not as Republicans and Democrats, but just as human beings,” Phelan added.
The attorney general is seeking systemic reforms within the NYPD by implementing a monitor to oversee police tactics for future protests.