Hoping to win back the respect and love of the people, an NYPD union president is offering a $500 cash reward to citizens to help them make arrests instead of record the arrests.
Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins blamed the "Ferguson effect" for turning people against police, referring to the national backlash against cops after the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Missouri.
He also blamed NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill for implementing a "hands off type policy of policing" that prevents them from arresting people who berate them on video.
And he also brought up instances of citizens standing around recording cops making arrests instead of helping them make the arrest.
The cash initiative is called 'Help a Cop' and Mullins insisted that the program is not to promote vigilantes or to promote citizens fighting crime.
"It's not a program of vigilantism, it's not against community imbalance and it's certainly not against people taking photos...people have the right to take photos of police photos," he said.
In the press release Mullins referred to an incident where an officer was fighting someone that they were trying to arrest in the 34 precinct where people stood around for 9 minutes recording without helping.
Currently, New York has a good Samaritan law, but does not shield civilians from liability if they choose to help an officer.
Mullins did state that there is a bill being drafted to change the current good Samaritan law so there can be protection to citizens.
This initiative has got backlash from both citizens and the NYPD itself.
"The NYPD encourages people to support their cops by calling 911. The department doesn't want to see people put in harm's way unnecessarily to collect a reward."
"The police creating a cash incentives for civilians to help them catch unwilling arrestees seems to taint the relationship between police and citizen. The incentive to physically participate in an arrest would disproportionately skew towards poor communities. The union noted that citizens often find themselves filming situations where police are using force instead of helping, as if that’s a bad thing. Absent any monetary incentive, civilians know the value them filming police officers can have for truth, including the detainee if something is done wrong. Giving them cash to participate in the arrest rather than film it puts citizen on citizen and disincentives the sort of accountability video provides."
This press release comes on the verge of a "privileged and confidential" memo dated August 15 that was sent to every New York Police Department precinct which advises officers to arrest anyone that does not stop recording within the tax-funded buildings when asked.
Anyone videotaping inside these facilities will first be asked to stop recording, according to the memo, released on Wednesday and citing a recent update to the department’s patrol guide. If a person won’t stop recording, they will be asked to leave — and those who still refuse can be arrested, the document states.
New York law enforcement has had a long ugly past with thinking photography is a crime and getting really upset when on camera and if it were not for a camera recording many interactions would go unnoticed.