NYPD Will No Longer be Making Arrests for Not Distancing
New York - Amid yet another violent arrest attempt, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that the NYPD will no longer be making arrests or handing out fines to those not adhering to distancing guidelines, though it will still issue summonses for those ignoring orders to disperse.
“Absent a serious danger to the public," the mayor said at his daily coronavirus press conference, "NYPD will not take enforcement actions for failing to wear face coverings.”
The shift comes amid several well publicized incidents in which officers were seen violently arresting people for not wearing masks in public or standing too close to others.
Most of the arrests took place in minority neighborhoods, data shows. This has led to accusations that police were performing heavy handed enforcement in black and Hispanic areas and smilingly distributing masks in white areas. State Attorney General Letitia James has demanded that the NYPD produce emails and documents related to enforcement.
“The reset will be this: We start with the fundamental notion the NYPD is here to protect lives, to save lives," de Blasio said, "and where we see the greatest danger to lives in terms of the coronavirus and the areas where we can enforce is around gatherings, particularly large gatherings, so that’s where we’re going to focus.”
Shortly after the mayor's remarks, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea sent a department-wide email stating that officers "will keep educating people about the benefits — to all of us — of individuals wearing face coverings. Moving forward, however, we will no longer issue summonses or make arrests for infractions related to face coverings — absent of a crime or other violation being committed."
A spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Society, the latest NYPD union, slammed the latest decision, saying that officers should not be used at all to enforce distancing rules. PBA president Patrick Lynch called it “another policy full of caveats and exceptions will create more problems than it solves.”
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