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Westchester Co. Police Orders Cops To Stay Out Of NYC To Protect Them From Police Reform Law

Hawthorne, NY – At least one of New York City’s bordering law enforcement agencies has barred its officers from taking any law enforcement action within the Big Apple due to a new law that prohibits police from intentionally or unintentionally compressing a suspect’s diaphragm.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed off on legislation on July 15 banning police from restraining suspects by applying pressure to their backs, chests, or necks, FOX News reported.

Law enforcement officers will now face potential misdemeanor charges if they attempt to subdue suspects “in a manner that restricts the flow of air or blood by compressing the windpipe or the carotid arteries on each side of the neck, or sitting, kneeling, or standing on the chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm, in the course of effecting or attempting to effect an arrest,” according to the bill.

Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason issued a “cessation of enforcement action” order the following day, prohibiting Westchester County Police Department (WCPD) officers from conducting “any enforcement activity within the confines of the City of New York.”

The WCPD’s jurisdiction borders New York City to the northeast.

Commissioner Gleason said he issued the order to protect his officers from New York City’s recently-enacted law.

“Given the likelihood that the restraint of a non-compliant individual during the course of making a lawful arrest often requires kneeling on the torso of the subject for at least a brief period of time and that [New York City’s new law] criminalizes such actions without respect to intent or injury, this order is intended to protect Sworn Members from criminal prosecution for actions consistent with their training and Department policy,” Commissioner Gleason wrote in the interim order.

WCPD officers are also banned from pursuing suspects into New York City for offenses allegedly committed in Westchester County.

Officers will still be permitted to travel into the city to pick up prisoners who are already in the custody of other agencies.

Additional exceptions to the order may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Other jurisdictions are also rumored to be considering implementation of similar policies due to the “incredibly reckless” new law, the New York City Police Benevolent Association’s legal office tweeted on Thursday.

The New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association (NYSTPBA) demanded on Wednesday that troopers be pulled from their posts in New York City due to the “hastily written” police reform measure.

NYSTPBA President Thomas Mungeer outlined his concerns in a press release the same day that de Blasio signed off on the law change, FOX News reported.

Mungeer said that state law already prohibits police from using chokeholds or applying pressure to the neck, and noted that the academy does not endorse or teach such tactics, the New York Post reported.

“But the local law goes beyond that and talks about any pressure on the back of the knee and chest,” he explained during an interview with the paper. “We aren’t trained on that — that’s a last line of defense — this local law goes above and beyond with the compression of the chest and the back.”

“I am demanding that New York State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett immediately remove all uniformed State Troopers currently stationed within New York City and cease any law enforcement activities within that jurisdiction,” Mungeer said in the July 15 press release.

The union president said that the “hastily written so-called police reform legislation” was “poorly conceived” and “puts an undue burden” on the state’s troopers, the New York Post reported.

“It opens them up to criminal and civil liability for restraining a person during a lawful arrest in a manner that is consistent with their training and is legal throughout the rest of the State,” he added, according to FOX News. “Furthermore, this legislation will prevent Troopers from safely and effectively arresting resistant subjects.”

Mungeer noted that officers involved in struggles with combative suspects could potentially face charges even in situations where they applied pressure to a subject’s chest or back unintentionally and the suspect was uninjured.

“These techniques are commonly used by many law enforcement agencies statewide and nationwide when officers are faced with violently combative subjects,” he said. “I find it extremely troubling that these acts are now defined as criminal in nature.”

New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief Terence Monahan referred to the law change as “insane” earlier this month, Spectrum News reported.

“The idea of the diaphragm bill — and I call it a diaphragm bill because we have no objection to the chokehold portion of it – but any cop who’s ever fought with someone on the street, trying to get him into cuffs, there’s a great possibility that your knee is going to end up on that individual’s back,” Chief Monahan told the New York Post on July 8. “And now this new law is criminalizing it.”

“It is a dangerous, dangerous portion of that bill,” he continued. “We try to avoid that, but in the midst of a fight, it’s pretty hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. When you have to worry that someone who may have taken a shot at you that you are now arresting, if your knee hits their back, you become the criminal.”

Chief Monahan noted that the “animosity towards police” is already “tremendous,” and that officers’ moral is extremely low, Spectrum News reported.

“This insane diaphragm law…makes our cops take that step back,” he said. “It’s a big issue to our cops.”

Mungeer said that the approximately 200 troopers based in New York City have “few other options” but to leave unless the New York State attorney general agrees to make them exempt to the new law, according to FOX News.

The New York State Police and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office declined to comment on the PBA’s demand to remove troopers from the city, the New York Post reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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