Letters: Eric Garner and the culture of the NYPD

This undated family photo provided by the National This undated family photo provided by the National Action Network on Saturday, July 19, 2014, shows Eric Garner, who was confronted by police trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed, loose cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk, authorities said. Photo Credit: National Action Network

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It’s really unfortunate that a man died while New York police were trying to arrest him [“Full investigation of death vowed,” News, July 24].

The fact is that the gentleman, Eric Garner of Staten Island, refused to be placed under arrest. I would like to know, speaking to critics now, how to take down a 350-pound man without someone getting hurt.

A cop does not go to work every day with the intention of hurting someone, but in the same sense he in turn does not want to be hurt. When all the facts are in, I am sure this will be determined to be an unfortunate accident.

Dennis Houlahan
Malverne
Editor’s note: The author is a retired police officer.


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I doubt that the family of Eric Garner will find much consolation in the NYPD continuing to enforce quality-of-life crimes, such as fare evasion [“NYPD officers to be retrained,” News, July 23].

Also, I don’t understand what, “increased minority representation in the force,” as stated by Commissioner William Bratton, has to do with training. In fact, I don’t think tragedies such as this can be resolved with training. NYPD officers already know that choking is not permitted. But they think (know), that they can get away with it.
The NYPD must define precisely what excessive force is — chokeholds, for example, have been banned for years — and then issue an edict to that effect. The police force does not need extensive retraining. There is a cultural problem in the NYPD that allows actions such as those taken to be swept under the rug and kept from the public. The only way this problem can be addressed is with a cultural change that starts at the very top and filters down, so that rank-and-file officers get the message that business as usual will no longer be tolerated.

John Gimberlein
West Babylon

New York City police handle more crimes than our Long Island police and they have good training.

The police union should demand an investigation into Eric Garner’s death. Those who cannot handle police work should be dismissed. This is not a job for bullies and cowards. Policing is a difficult job and the public deserves better. This case should have been handled by the cop writing a citation and then letting the judge decide.

Ernest Fazio
Centerport

 

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