NYC mayor announces police retraining amid nationwide protests

NYC mayor announces police retraining amid nationwide protests
New York authorities have unveiled an overhaul in NYPD tactics and training as racial tensions reach an all-time high after a grand jury verdict not to indict an NYPD police officer over the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

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Addressing the ongoing protests that have paralyzed the Big Apple, NYC's Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced "significant changes" in police retraining on Thursday.

People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives,” de Blasio said as Bratton announced the three-day retraining course for NYPD.

“The relationship between police and community has to change. The way we go about policing has to change,” de Blasio said at a news conference.

De Blasio said some $35 million will be spent on re-training the officers to cover overtime pay.

Demonstrators in Times Square protest a grand jury decision not to charge a New York policeman in the chocking death of Eric Garner, in New York December 4, 2014. (Reuters / Mike Segar)

Police Commissioner William Bratton, taking the floor announced that some 22,000 policemen will start a three-day training course that will focus on deescalation tensions in a public gathering and dealing with the crowd.

“It’s a fulfillment of a commitment that I made coming in as commissioner and that the mayor embraced wholeheartedly — the need to refocus the department,” Bratton said. “And to refocus it requires training and the enhancement of skills that are so necessary to reach the commitment that we made to the community to police fairly, impartially and safely.”

The latest developments are a particularly sensible for de Blasio who was elected on pledges to fight for economic and racial equality.

On Wednesday, after the grand jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo for the July death of Eric Garner, de Blasio said that he shared the city's minority communities’ fears, as his son Dante is half-black.

"I've had to worry over the years, [my wife] Chirlane has had to worry: Is Dante safe each night?" said de Blasio, adding that the danger emanated from both the criminals and "the very people they (children) want to have faith in as their protectors."

The latest spike in racial tensions comes in the wake of a similar case last month in Ferguson, Missouri where grand jury voted not to indict white policeman Darren Wilson over the killing of a black teenager, Michael Brown.

Demonstrators fill 7th Avenue in Times Square as they protest a grand jury decision not to charge a New York policeman in the choking death of Eric Garner, in New York December 4, 2014. (Reuters / Mike Segar)