The New York Police Department’s anti-crime unit has been disbanded, the department announced on Monday.
The citywide unit was comprised of roughly 600 plainclothes officers tasked with removing illegal guns from the streets, NBC News reported.
The change represents “a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city,” Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference Monday. “I would consider this in the realm of closing the last chapters of stop, question and frisk,” he said.
“This is 21st-century policing.”
Commissioner Dermot Shea says “effective immediately,” the NYPD will disband its anti-crime unit and reassign roughly 600 plainclothes officers to other units pic.twitter.com/SuA6yyyEtf
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) June 15, 2020
Daniel Pantaleo, a member of the unit, in 2014 used a chokehold on Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died shortly afterwards. The Justice Department opted not to charge Pantaleo last year. Weeks later, however, Pantaleo was fired from the New York Police Department.
The move to disband the unit comes as a nationwide movement to reform policing picks up steam in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, video shows.
House and Senate Democrats proposed police reform legislation last week, which included bans on chokeholds and a national registry of police officers. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed police reform legislation with a number of provisions, including a requirement that police officers report within six hours every time they discharge their weapon.
Cuomo signed the “Say Their Name” reform package last week to “help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine the state’s criminal justice system,” according to a statement. The package also banned chokeholds and prohibited false race-based 911 reports.
“Police reform is long overdue in this state and this nation, and New York is once again leading the way and enacting real change to end the systemic discrimination that exists in our criminal justice and policing systems,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These critical reforms will help improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
There is also a move to defund, or even disband, police departments across the country. The Minneapolis City Council voted to dismantle its police department last week.
Meanwhile, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York pledged to cut the $6 billion New York Police Department budget last week, according to The New York Times. He said he would take money from the police department and put it towards youth and social services.
“The city will own whatever harm comes from defunding the police department,” Vincent Vallelong, vice president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
City officials have every right to defund the police, Vallelong noted, but he said they will have to be ready for the consequences of such a move.
The city must decide what kinds of cuts it will make to the police department by June 30, The Wall Street Journal reported. New York must also address the more than billion-dollar budget shortfall inflicted upon the city by the coronavirus pandemic by then.
The officers who were members of the disbanded unit will be transferred to other units in the New York Police Department, Shea said.
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