Washington Post

December 4, 2014 at 5:48 PM

New York Mayor, police union officials clash after grand jury decision in Eric Garner’s death

Tensions between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and some in the city’s police force came into full view Thursday, as police union officials accused the mayor of throwing the department “under the bus” in his response to a grand jury’s decision to not indict a white officer in Eric Garner’s killing.

“Police officers feel like they are being thrown under the bus,” Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said at a Thursday press conference. “Look, last night, the protesters — we may not agree with their message, but we were protecting their right to do it. That’s what they should be saying.”

De Blasio pushed back, thanking protesters for an “overwhelmingly” peaceful protest on Wednesday night that resulted in 83 arrests, and praising officers. “The response by the New York Police Department was exactly the right one. It was smart, it was strategic, it was agile. A lot of restraint was shown,” the mayor said as he announced a massive refresher training for the nation’s largest police force in the wake of Garner’s death.

“This is a sign of respect for the profession of policing,” de Blasio said of the training. “We put so many other professions on a pedestal and put a huge amount on training. This is a profession that deserves more support.”

Starting this month, all 20,000 members of the city’s patrol force, including 2,500 sergeants and 900 lieutenants, will undergo a three-day training course that will include learning conflict-resolution skills and how to deescalate situations with methods other than force.

“Fundamental questions are being asked, and rightfully so, about how we respect people’s rights, how we reduce the use of force and the relationship between police and community,” de Blasio said.