Oct. 5, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Queens Council Member Bob Holden is looking to repeal recently-passed legislation that bans the NYPD from using chokeholds.
Holden said the anti-chokehold legislation – which made it a misdemeanor when cops use methods of restraints like chokeholds and kneeling on a suspect’s back – hampers officers from doing their jobs effectively and wants it reversed.
The council member said he will introduce a bill on Oct. 15 that seeks to fully repeal the “reckless” city council legislation which was signed into law by the mayor in July.
The city council passed legislation more comprehensively than what the state passed earlier in the year. The state law makes it a class C felony when a police officer uses a chokehold– but the law doesn’t include a provision that forbids cops from sitting or kneeling on a suspect’s back.
Holden said the state law is much more reasonable.
The council member said that there is already a heavy burden on cops to keep the public safe without taking away restraining measures which they need and were included in the city’s anti-chokehold bill.
“The city council law asks them to try to subdue violent criminals with their hands tied, under fear of going to jail,” Holden said in a statement Monday.
The city’s anti-chokehold legislation – which was originally introduced by Council Member Rory Lancman – was passed as part of a package of bills to reform the NYPD following the death of George Floyd and a series of violent police clashes with civilians over the summer.
Holden said that the anti-chokehold bill goes too far and prevents cops from subduing a violent suspect safely and quickly. He said that this situation in of itself creates a serious public safety issue.
“Whenever a police officer is involved in a physical struggle, there’s always a gun involved – the police officer’s gun,” Holden said.
“That makes it dangerous for not only the police officer but innocent bystanders as well,” he said.
“A mother in Queens was hit by a stray bullet and killed last week,” Holden added.
He said that the state legislation is more practical than the city council bill which was passed in the midst of mass protests against police brutality held throughout the nation.
“We need to start asking how we can help our cops and how we can really solve the problems facing this city, instead of governing with protest slogans,” Holden said.
The anti-chokehold legislation was overwhelming passed 47-3 and faces a stiff challenge to be overturned.
A spokesperson for Holden said that his new bill has the support of fellow Democratic Council Member Chaim Deutsch as well as Republican Council Members Eric Ulrich and Joe Borelli. Deutsch had voted for the anti-chokehold legislation in the summer whereas Holden, Borelli and Republican Council Member Steve Matteo voted against it.
The New York Police Benevolent Association said it supports Holden’s move to overturn the anti-chokehold bill.
“We applaud Council Member Holden for having the courage to stand up for sanity and the safety of all New Yorkers,” the group said in a Facebook post Thursday.
“He knows that this law doesn’t allow Police officers to do our job safely or effectively. Once again, he is choosing common sense and his constituents. That’s leadership.”
Council Member Rory Lancman told the New York Post that his anti-chokehold legislation was passed because the NYPD refused to enforce its own guidelines on methods of restraint.
“The reason we introduced and passed our law is because the NYPD has been unable and unwilling to enforce its own prohibitions against dangerous police maneuvers that get people killed and seriously injured,” Lancman told the New York Post.
Lancman did not respond to the Queens Post when asked to comment on this story.