February 24, 2015

Be Nice: the NYPD Gets Transcendent

The NYPD has instituted a new "be nice" retraining program. According to the NY Post, the City has started a mandatory three-day retraining program for 22,000 police officers in the wake of the Eric Garner killing, designed to teach officers how to deal with angry civilians. Apparently, the original course was so stultifyingly dull that officers were falling asleep. In an attempt to juice it up, the NYPD is now showing inspirational clips, such as the following two minute bit from the classic Patrick Swayze film, Roadhouse.

To be fair, the story did run in the Post; a daily paper not exactly renowned for its dedication to accuracy or objectivity. Politically speaking, the paper tends to be a big supporter of the rank and file, and is quick to denigrate Mayor de Blasio whenever the opportunity presents itself. Thus, the story may well be true, but then again it may not.

What is certainly true, as I've learned over the years in deposing police officers, is that the NYPD already teaches officers how to handle an unhappy public. For instance, there's already a course at the academy for the probie cadets called "verbal judo." Certainly this makes sense, as police officers have to deal with the public constantly, and really ought to have a basic understanding of how to avoid escalating confrontations and defuse potentially combustible conflicts.

In other words, it would really be a shame if the NYPD's already-existing training was inadequate, but it's even worse if this is really the intended cure.

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