NEW YORK – The New York City Police Department announced Friday that it will be introducing an initiative called the Stop-and-Kill program, an operation that will extend the rights of officers to an unprecedented degree. As an extension of the Stop-and-Frisk program, which allowed officers to search civilians for weapons and contraband based on a standard of reasonable suspicion, the Stop-and-Kill initiative will permit officers to injure or kill New York City residents at their own discretion.
The decision comes on the heels of a recent incident that left Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island resident, dead after an altercation with two NYPD officers. Garner was confronted by officers Daniel Pantaleo and Justin Damico under suspicion for selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. An unarmed Garner was placed in a chokehold and died as a result. The incident has gained widespread media attention as a result of a video of the incident.
The NYPD is standing behind officers Pantaleo and Damico. NYPD spokeswoman Amanda Carlisle referred to the incident as “a blessing in disguise” and “the push we needed to get Stop-and-Kill off the ground.”
“The vast majority of crimes committed in this city are perpetrated by living human beings,” said Police Commissioner Bratton in a statement Thursday. “Seeing as Mr. Garner was both alive and a human being at the time of the incident, we believe officers Pantaleo and Damico used their extensive training as officers to make the right decision.”
NYPD officers seem unanimously supportive of Stop-and-Kill. “This initiative is designed not only to protect officers but to allow the NYPD to better serve the public,” said Bradley Nelson, a Brooklyn policeman. “There are countless situations in which we could’ve stopped a criminal from hurting or killing someone if we had simply killed or hurt them first. This is the logical next step in keeping our city safe.”
The initiative has drawn criticism from New Yorkers and government officials alike. Many are expressing concern over what they see as blind faith in law enforcement’s ability to accurately perceive threats and respond appropriately, particularly in light of a long history of racial profiling and unwarranted police violence. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, 85% of New Yorkers stopped by police in 2013 were black or Latino. Miguel Civiles, a 30-year-old Queens resident who claimed he was “probably definitely going to die now,” expressed concern about leaving the house. “They were already killing us when it was illegal. Now it’s legal. Nothing will change except the death toll.”
A source close to the commissioner’s office told Newslo that the initiative was originally called “Kill, Just Kill,” but was later changed so as to better reflect the program’s mission: “Keeping You Safe by Killing Just a Few of You.”