New York City's "top cop" gave broadcast and print journalists interviews during the weekend in an effort to convince the people that the recent death of a black suspect caused by a police officer using the outlawed "chokehold" is not proof that Big Apple cops are purposely choosing minorities to arrest for misdemeanors.
In his interviews with local and national news organizations, including WCBS and CNN, Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters that he wished to be given a chance to correct any misinformation especially by some of the city's well-known agitators.
The anger with the police in New York by African American and Latino residents stems from a videotape of a suspect, 43-year-old Eric Garner, who last month died while in police custody.
New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also spoke to reporters during the weekend, claims that the city must move on and leave Garner's death behind.
"This has to be a turning point moment," de Blasio said on Channel 2 News, the CBS affiliate in New York. "We can't let any moment that leaves us so sad and pained be an end point. It has to be an opening of a door to something better."
But then de Blasio crossed the line, according to several police officials when he said there is a plan to retrain the entire New York Police Department about working with the people they are sworn to protect and serve.
"That statement makes it sound as if we are a racist department when we are not. We have a large number of minority officers all through the ranks of the police force," said former police officer Iris Aquino, who served in the NYPD's transit bureau.
In the controversial video, taken by a civilian, officers are seen struggling to arrest Garner on suspicion of selling contraband (untaxed) cigarettes in a Staten Island borough neighborhood. When Garner resisted arrest, a struggle ensued with the officers.
When the suspect, an African American died during the altercation with police, an autopsy was performed by the medical examiner. The pathologist said that in his medical opinion it was a chokehold, which is forbidden by police policy, that "contributed to [Garner's] death."
Bratton attempted on Friday and Saturday to explain that more misdemeanor arrests occur in predominately black or Latino neighborhoods due to the increased number of police officers assigned to high-crime rate communities. For the most part, police officers are welcomed in these high-volume crime locations by blacks and Hispanics since they are most likely the victims of the criminals.
Meanwhile, Bratton and his boss de Blasio finding a cold reception from the city's police unions such as the Police Benevolent Association and the Detectives Endowment Association. The union officials, who represent more than 40,000 law enforcement officers, were offended and angered when they saw the Commissioner Bratton, Mayor de Blasio sitting next to the man they believe is the biggest race-baiter and anti-police agitator, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"During a town hall type meeting, Bratton and de Blasio sat like frightened children while Sharpton lectured them about how to run their police department and how they should make an example of the officer who allegedly used a chokehold on Garner," said former police detective, now a director of Hospital Security, Winston Cardoza.
"When I see Sharpton talking about honesty and integrity it offends me since I worked as a cop during the time that Rev. Al, who we called 'the blimp from Brooklyn,' perpetrated the fraud known as the 'Tawana Brawley Case' that turned out to be one big lie after another," said Cardoza.
The NYC Patrolman's Benevolent Association (PBA), which represents rank-and-file police officers, posted their own view of the Garner case and the political pandering from the likes of the mayor, his police commissioner and other politicians. On its website PBA officials stated:
"PBA president Patrick J. Lynch and SBA [Sergeants Benevolent Association] president Edward D. Mullins voiced their outrage over the vile and insulting pronouncements of some in connection with the tragic death in custody of Mr. Eric Gardner on Staten Island on July 17. They contend that the damage to the reputation of police officers resulting from debate over a failed managerial policy regarding stop, question and frisk has sent the mistaken message to criminals that it is acceptable to resist arrest for minor infractions."