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NYPD to Track Every Use of Force by Officers

By  Trevor Kapp and Rosa Goldensohn | October 1, 2015 10:39am | Updated on October 1, 2015 3:34pm

 NYPD officers will be required to chronicle nearly every use of force incident, like the one involving retired tennis star James Blake, beginning next year, according to a new report.
NYPD officers will be required to chronicle nearly every use of force incident, like the one involving retired tennis star James Blake, beginning next year, according to a new report.
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MIDTOWN — The NYPD has unveiled a host of new initiatives in a bid to prevent its officers' misuse of force including introducing better training and mandating that officers report every incident they're involved in, among other efforts to boost transparency, the department announced Thursday.

Under new guidelines, officers will have to chronicle any time that force is used, not just when the instance leads to an arrest, but also during any run-in with the public, such as the mistaken identity tackle of retired tennis star James Blake three weeks ago, NYPD officials said.

The guidelines were announced just hours before the Department of Investigation went public with a blistering report claiming the NYPD hasn't adequately recorded uses of force and often doesn't discipline officers involved in them.

"NYPD was living a little bit in the Dark Ages with respect to its use-of-force policies," NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure said.

Bratton shot back during a Thursday press conference announcing the guidelines.

"I would take strong, strong exception to that language. That is an outrageous comment. This department is nothing close to being in the Dark Ages. If that is in the report, shame on him," Bratton said.

"The Dark Ages were 700 years ago. I think we’ve come a long way since the 1300s," Bratton added.

The new use-of-force guidelines aim to provide some clarity to confusing rules about the use of force, how it's defined and how to investigate it, NYPD officials said.

"We are moving now to address all other uses of force in a comprehensive way, with new policies, new reporting procedures, new investigative protocols and regular annual training," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said during a Thursday announcement.

The reforms were first reported by The New York Times.

Under the new guidelines, officers will be require to report any instances of excessive force they witness, police said. And they will face formal discipline if they don't report using force in an incident, as well as if they don't intervene if one of their colleagues is using excessive force.

Officers also face discipline if they don't summon medical help for someone who asks for it, police said. 

"Where we are going is where American policing is going to be going. That’s the reality of it," Bratton said.

The new guidelines will also:

► Train both recruits and officers on how to de-escalate confrontations and safe takedown moves for both the police and arrestee.

► Include a new section in the department's patrol guide that outlines all policies about the use of force.

► Define different levels of force and how they are each investigated. Higher level investigators will review more severe incidents and vice versa.

► Document how often officers use force and how often its used against them with a standardized Force Incident Report that officials described as "robust" and "wide ranging."

► Create found a 54-officer team investigating police shootings and deaths in police custody that reports to the first deputy commissioner of the department. The Internal Affairs Bureau will no longer investigate police shootings.

► Publish an annual report of every time officers used force.

The department’s new rules are set to go into effect early next year, officials said.

The NYPD consulted with police departments in Los Angeles, Seattle and other cities to create the new guidelines.