Bratton-de Blasio Back Off Machine Guns, Create Protest Task Force

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Note: On Monday NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a new heavily armed, machine gun carrying special force that would be used to fight civil disturbances and protests as part of an anti-terrorism unit. The article below reports they have backed off from the machine guns, no doubt because there was a lot of protest, but are still planning a new task force to respond to protests.

According to the NYPD the task force will “handle the demonstrations and protests… respond to any sort of civil disorder. They’ll also be able to respond to citywide mobilizations.”  The announcement of the task forces was vague in how they would handle protests and what their special training would involve.

This intentional lack of clarity about how the NYPD will respond to protests does not provide the kind of transparency that is needed. The NYPD has a terrible record regarding violations of civil rights. In five years beginning on January 1, 2009 the NYPD paid $400 million to settle civil rights claims. Many of these claims have involved mistreatment of people exercising their freedom of speech and right to assemble to redress grievances.

Mayor di Blasio and Commissioner Bratton need to be forthright about the tactics they will be using. What kind of special training will this special task force have? How will they be armed? What role will infiltrators and disruptors play? Will police instigate violence and property damage? How will they protect the constitutional rights of protesters? The terrible record of the NYPD demands transparency.

Take action to demand transparency and that your constitutional rights be protected:

Contact Mayor di Blasio
212-788-3000
Webform Send Online Message

Contact Commissioner Bratton
NYPD Switchboard: 1-646-610-5000
Ask to leave a message for the Police Commissioner Bratton.

550 specially trained NYPD officers will handle rallies, protests — NOT with high-powered guns

Eight borough task forces will be whittled down to just one for each borough, and buttressed by about 550 specially trained officers, to deal with demonstrations and protests, NYPD officials said Monday. The new unit will not be armed with high-powered weapons, as was reported last week.

More than 500 cops will be trained to deal with demonstrations and protests, NYPD officials announced Monday.

Within months, eight borough task forces will be whittled down to just one for each borough, and buttressed by about 550 specially trained officers, NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said.

“They’ll handle the demonstrations and protests,” O’Neill said. “They’ll also be able to respond to any sort of civil disorder. They’ll also be able to respond to citywide mobilizations.”

An internal look at the task forces, which typically provide support to precincts, revealed weaknesses, he said.

“We looked at their mission,” he said. “We looked at their training and we saw that it varied from borough to borough. There was a disparate mission. The level of training wasn’t always consistent.”

The new unit will not be armed with high-powered weapons, as was reported last week following a Police Foundation breakfast at which Police Commissioner Bill Bratton discussed the role of a new unit of counterterrorism officers.

That unit was incorrectly called the Strategic Response Group — which is actually the name of the initiative announced on Monday.

Even before the Dec. 20 police work slowdown following the execution of two cops in Brooklyn, there had been a drop in summons writing and low-level arrests.

Police attributed the decrease to the number of cops pulled from every precinct to staff protests related to the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

rparascandola@nydailynews.com