Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

NYPD Wielding Heavy Baton on New Yorkers? Officials Refute Report Citing Excessive Force

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

NYPD Wielding Heavy Baton on New Yorkers? Officials Refute Report Citing Excessive Force

Article excerpt

Television shows celebrate New York's "finest," its police officers. The city's former police commissioner recently gazed out from the cover of Time magazine. Cops from around the world visit NYPD's "war room" to learn how to crack down on criminals. But now the department is under a different kind of spotlight - accused of police brutality.

The nation's largest police force, the NYPD, joins the ranks of law-enforcement organizations across the country that have been accused of using "choke holds" on suspects, beating unarmed citizens, or shooting first and asking questions later.

It's a nagging national problem that even police officials admit is difficult to stop when individual cops, armed with guns, believe their badges give them the right to pummel people. Misuse of police power has been alleged, for example, in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.

"There are instances when police officers use more force than necessary to consummate the arrest," says David Walchak, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Washington.

But Mr. Walchak says he believes use of excess force by officers has dropped in the US because of better training and high selection standards. The IACP is engaged in a national study to find out more about the extent and nature of police brutality.

In New York, the issue has surfaced in recent weeks as police conduct has been called into question. On June 3, two officers are accused of slamming a handcuffed Hispanic man face-first onto the sidewalk. The man needed medical help afterward.

Police are also investigating a recent incident in which officers killed a man driving a car they believed had been stolen by an armed man. The officers shot the driver when they saw him reach under his seat. No gun was found.

And, last month, a New York City police detective was arrested after an African-American man was beaten into a coma outside a club in Westhampton on Long Island. The detective is alleged to have pulled his gun to prevent on-lookers from coming to the aid of the injured man. …

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