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NYPD union offers $500 reward to citizens who help cops with violent suspects

The Sergeants Benevolent Association's offer received pushback from NYPD officials who want citizens to call 911.

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association,

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, announced on Wednesday a $500 reward for any citizen who comes to the aid of an NYPD officer during a violent confrontation with a suspect. Photo Credit: David 'Dee' Delgado

The union for NYPD sergeants on Wednesday announced a $500 reward for citizens who come to the aid of cops in violent confrontations with suspects resisting arrest.

Officials with the Sergeants Benevolent Association said at a news conference that the reward program would take effect immediately and be advertised around the city on special billboard vehicles.

“Too often we see police officers engaged in violent struggles with perpetrators while members of the public stand by and take videos of the incident with their cellphone cameras," said SBA president Ed Mullins in a statement. “This has got to stop, and hopefully this program will incentivize Good Samaritans to do the right thing.”

The reward offer got some immediate pushback from NYPD officials, who looked askance at the idea.

“The NYPD encourages people to support their cops by calling 911,”  said NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak.  “The department doesn’t want to see people put in harm’s way unnecessarily to collect a reward.”

The reward program has issues of liability for Good Samaritans that need to be addressed by legislation, said Jerry Kassar, chief of staff for State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn).

A high-ranking NYPD official has said in the past there have been instances where people coming to the aid of cops actually pulled suspects off an officer during a fight and then tried to dish out their own style of vigilante-style justice. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to comment.

Mullins said the sergeants union is still encouraging people to call 911 if they see a cop in a confrontation but didn’t think the question of liability was any different from a situation where someone runs to the aid of a person on the street and gets injured.

“Somewhere people have to stand for what they believe in,” he said.

The union acknowledged the legal liability issue and noted that Golden is preparing legislation to amend the state’s Good Samaritan law to cover people who come to the aid of public officials in violent struggles.  The current law only shields from liability those who are giving medical assistance in cases of an accident  or drug or alcohol overdose.

Kassar said the new law would be an addition to existing state law and wouldn’t be an amendment of the current Good Samaritan statute.  Language for the proposed bill should be available in a few weeks, Kassar said.

“He likes the idea,” Kassar said of Golden’s reaction to the reward program.  “We definitely believe [Mullins] has something here.”

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