City Council passes Williams’ Use of Force bill

Council Member Jumaane Williams.
Associated Press

New York City Council last Thursday passed Council Member Jumaane Williams’ Use of Force bill that requires that the New York Police Department (NYPD) issue quarterly reports on the use of force and their relationship to quality of life offenses.

The bill, known as Intro. 606, was overwhelmingly passed in the City Council by a vote of 40-4.

Williams, deputy leader and representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. introduced Intro. 606 after the death of Eric Garner in 2014.

Garner died on July 17, 2014 in Staten Island after a police officer placed him in a chokehold, while arresting him for selling cigarettes.

“I wanted more information from the police department on the use of force when it comes to offenses such as those alleged to have been committed by Mr. Garner,” Williams said. “This bill will shed light on the basis for police officers approaching, or engaging in a police interaction with a New Yorker.”

Intro. 606 was passed alongside two other bills that address use of force incidents in the police department.

Intro. 539, sponsored by Council Member Rory Lancman, requires the NYPD to provide a quarterly report on the number of use of force incidents disaggregated by type of force used, precinct or unit of the officer that used force, and whether the officer was on or off duty when the force was used.

In addition, the bill would require the department to report on the number of injuries to an officer or civilian resulting from a police and civilian interaction involving a use of force incident, and the severity of those injuries.

The NYPD would also be required to annually provide a report on the uses of force found to be excessive by the department.

Williams said these excessive uses of force would be disaggregated by type of force used, including whether a firearm was used; precinct to which such officer was assigned; whether such officer was on duty; and the outcome of any departmental charges brought against such officer

Intro. 0824, sponsored by Council Member Deborah Rose, requires the NYPD to post an annual report of the total number and percentage of officers in each precinct that have two or more substantiated Civilian Complaint Review Board complaints in the last three calendar years; have been the subject of an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation that resulted in a suspension in the last five years; and used excessive force in the last three years.

“When combined with legislation by Council Members Lancman and Rose, we’ll get further information on overall use of force, along with additional reporting on the location of officers, who have received the highest number of civilian complaints,” Williams said.

“We will also be able to identify officers who are frequently named in civil action lawsuits because of alleged police brutality,” he added.

“It is my hope that as we move toward improved police-community relations, the data gleaned from these new reports will help us understand overall use of force guidelines, including their relation to quality of life offenses, and open up opportunities to deescalate altercations where at all possible,” Williams continued.

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