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It was both inevitable and foreseeable when Mayor de Blasio signed into law July 15 a package of police-reform bills that included criminalizing attempts by cops to get suspects under control that involved compression of their diaphragms that those not absolutely bound by this unwise restriction would act against it.
So it's no surprise that State Troopers Police Benevolent Association President Thomas Mungeer's request that his members assigned to the city be transferred elsewhere was quickly followed by a declaration by Yonkers Police Chief John Mueller that his officers would no longer cross into The Bronx in pursuit of suspects because it would subject them to potential prosecution if they subdued them by pinning their torsos against the ground.
Several other suburban police departments from Long Island and Westchester have taken the same position. This prompted City Councilman Rory Lancman, who had long sought to criminalize chokeholds because Police Commissioners routinely declined to impose serious discipline on those who used them despite a 1993 NYPD ban, to accuse them of trying to politically strong-arm the city into nullifying the new law.
He told this newspaper's Richard Khavkine, "If there are any police departments from other jurisdictions who aren't willing to come to New York City and not choke someone to death, they're better off staying where they are."
But are we?
The truth is, the opposition to the bill was not about its criminalizing chokeholds. It's not clear to us that this aspect does anything beyond the state ban approved by legislators in Albany and signed into law by Governor Cuomo June 12. That was a change that needed to be made, and anyone looking to point a finger ought to start with former Commissioners like Ray Kelly and Bill Bratton who didn't enforce the department's ban in a meaningful way.
But the diaphragm-compression part of the bill was a bridge too far. Those like Mr. Lancman who are suggesting that law-enforcement officials including Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan are trying to bully that change into oblivion should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they weren't stampeded into this change, as well as a sharp cut in the NYPD's budget, by a collection of anarchists, criminals and idealists who whatever good intentions they may harbor don't understand policing or the effect that the compression ban figures to have.
As reckless as many Council Members were, a greater share of the blame falls on Mayor de Blasio's shoulders. He has admitted to having doubts about that change and said he respected many of the police officials who counseled him that it would be too onerous for cops to do their jobs properly because it could force them to choose between safeguarding themselves and being indicted.
So if he didn't heed their warnings or think hard about his own doubts, what is guiding his decision-making process?
Call Governor Cuomo a bully and you won't be wrong. But one reason he is respected even by those who aren't thrilled by his manners is that he understands that the authority of his position requires that he keep legislators from rushing headlong into bad decisions that will need far more fixing later than if addressed in the moment.
Mr. de Blasio seems to lack that understanding. That is why those who don't have to listen to him or play by his rules are taking the cops they employ or represent out of the line of fire, and why even those who work for him continue to make their displeasure known.