It has been three years since the NYPD announced it would train its police force on implicit bias—a decision the department came to after one of its officers killed Eric Garner with a chokehold, a technique the department had banned—but not one officer has received such training to date.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD announced it would retrain a significant portion of its police force in December 2014 after a grand jury declined to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, for choking Garner, a black man, to death using the banned technique that summer.
On Thursday, the NYPD’s first deputy commissioner, Benjamin Tucker, said that no NYPD officer has received implicit bias training since Garner death in 2014.
“We are in the process of beginning the implicit bias training,” said Tucker, sitting alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio, police commissioner James O’Neill and other senior officials in the department at a press briefing at police headquarters.
De Blasio, however, has repeatedly touted the implicit bias course as one of his progressive administration’s and the department’s successes.
“I have been an activist for years, and I know the activist community well,” he said at a press conference on May 17. “I was at the rallies and the meetings where people demanded all the policies that we put in place. […] They demanded an end to low-level marijuana possession arrests. They demanded new training for the police force, implicit bias training—I could go on and on.
“All of those things actually are happening right now,” he said. “So, I’ll challenge anyone, anytime on those facts and on how progressive those changes are.”
But, according to Tucker, at least one of those things is not happening right now.
Many officers, like those who are a part of the department’s neighborhood policing plan, have completed a variety of new training courses, such as techniques for crisis intervention and de-escalation, since Garner’s death—just not yet on implicit bias.
In July 2016, de Blasio spoke about the measures the NYPD was taking and the training it had not yet implemented.
“I believe in my heart there are people who did not end up in a tragic incident—officers and civilians alike—because of the retraining that has already happened,” he said. “I believe there have been dangerous moments de-escalated because our officers were taught better how to do that. I believe that the implicit bias training is already helping people to think about that maybe they’re seeing things the wrong way because of what’s around us in our society and to be more careful.”
De Blasio corrected himself a couple months later when he acknowledged implicit bias training had not yet begun.
“Starting next year—and listen to this, listen to this because everyone in this room knows the history—starting next year, the biggest police force in the United States of America, as part of the training of every new officer, will implement what’s called implicit bias training.”
That training was not implemented the following year, though.