As the probe continues into the wrongful arrest and tackling of James Blake, city officials reiterated Monday that the NYPD is retraining thousands of officers and trying to focus on the future.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department is aiming to have one of the most comprehensive performance review programs, including improving its early warning system for officers who receive several complaints, by employing attorneys, analysts and consultants from the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bratton said he expects the officer in the Blake incident to be interviewed by investigators sometime this week.
“The department is developing an extraordinarily robust initiative to that regard,” Bratton said, speaking at an unrelated news conference at police headquarters. “So I’m very comfortable as we’re moving forward, like the LAPD, that we’ll have one of the most comprehensive performance review systems in place not only for identifying potential issues with officers, but when officers do engage in behavior that needs to be corrected through training, discipline, that will also be done in a way that will be state of the art.”
Blake was tackled by a plainclothes officer Wednesday in front of a midtown hotel after someone mistakenly fingered him as a suspect in an identity-theft investigation. The 35-year-old former tennis star, who was once ranked No. 4 in the world, was in town for the U.S. Open.
On Thursday, Bratton apologized to Blake, noting Blake’s desire to meet with the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. The next day, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a second joint apology with Bratton, reiterating the NYPD’s retraining efforts.
“My view is this is about moving forward as a city. This is about continuing the retraining, continuing the reforms, ensuring that people are treated properly, and that officers know how to use the least possible force in these situations,” de Blasio said Monday, speaking at the same news conference. “But the most important thing is to get ahead of the challenge. The challenge is not new, it’s decades old. We want to get ahead of the challenge and fix it going forward.”
The officer was placed on modified duty following the incident, which was captured on surveillance video.
“That investigation as it goes forward will take a look at the veracity of what occurred,” Bratton said Monday. “We have a saying in policing: that the first story is never the last story. And we will try to get to the last story and make it as accurate as possibly can with the quality intensity of our investigations.”