New York City's top cop made a citywide tour Tuesday night, promising residents that the NYPD would remain vigilant in the fight against crime amid criticism over police tactics sparked by the death of a man who was put in an apparent chokehold during an arrest and died.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton made stops in each of the city’s five boroughs Tuesday night for the National Night Out Against Crime, a yearly event where police forces and community members across the country organize events to speak out against crime.
The appearances come less than a week after the death of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old Staten Island father who died during a July 17 arrest, was ruled a homicide.
Garner’s death has put the department’s tactics under the microscope, with several other people coming forward saying they were put in chokeholds during arrests and community activists criticizing Bratton’s “broken windows” policing philosophy, which emphasizes minor offenses as a means to combat large-scale crime.
Bratton’s last stop was on the Midland Beach boardwalk on Staten Island, where between 5,000 and 8,000 citizens turned out to hear the commissioner speak. Bratton didn’t address Garner’s death directly, but said the department wouldn’t let crime hit levels from decades past.
“You remember what it was like,” Bratton said. “We’re never going back to those days, we’re going ahead.”
Staten Islanders had mixed reactions to the commissioner’s comments.
“I come out here every year,” said Joan Hollis. “I know (Garner’s death) isn’t going to be swept under the rug.”
Another resident, Devon Williams, said he thought Bratton should have mentioned Garner's death.
“I think they should have had a little prayer, something to start this event off,” he said.