Report: City Council Considers Revising Chokehold Law

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The New York City Council is reportedly taking steps to revise a recently passed police chokehold law.

The law, which was approved by the City Council in June and signed by the mayor last month, bans the use of chokeholds by the NYPD, but also prohibits sitting, kneeling or standing on a person's chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm when making an arrest. 

Police officials had raised concerns about the measure, saying that an officer could unintentionally compress someone's diaphragm while making an arrest.

NY1 reports that the City Council is considering adding new the word "recklessly" to the diaphragm portion of the law and only make the move illegal if it "causes injury due to asphyxiation." 

During his daily briefing Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Donovan Richards, chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee, is leading the effort and more details were expected to be released later in the day.

"The conversation over the last month or two has been about the need to have constant reform and improvement in relationship between police and community and also the need to address the growing problem of shootings and gun violence. I've heard from so many City Council members, so many community leaders that they're deeply, deeply concerned and they want to address both these needs simultaneously," the mayor said. "Clearly the crucial reform in the original legislation continues, chokeholds will be illegal no matter what, as I understand the focus here is just on some clarification on the issue of diaphragms."

In a statement released Wednesday, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said, "Nothing short of a full repeal can repair the damage from this insane law. That won't happen, because the Mayor and City Council have no intention of actually fixing this problem. They are content to blame cops for the mess they created. If they wanted us to be able to do our job safely and effectively, they would never have passed it in the first place."

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a retired police captain, said earlier this month "the City Council should come back to the table, reexamine what they put into law." He said he understands banning chokeholds, but said officers sometimes need to put pressure on the back or diaphragm of a suspect in a life or death struggle.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea previously said city lawmakers have “gone too far” and that new police accountability laws in the city are “handcuffing the police” as it sees a spike in gun violence.

Several of the city's district attorneys have said they will take a case-by-case approach to enforcing the law.

A hearing on the change is expect next week, according to NY1.

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