NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thursday was the deadline for police departments throughout New York to submit plans for police reforms or threat dropping state funds.
Chief Rodney Harrison, the NYPD’s highest rating uniformed police officer, spoke with CBS2’s Maurice DuBois about reform, group policing and his rise to the highest.
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Harrison was sworn in as Chief of Division on March 30. He’s been an officer for practically 30 years.
“Have you ever had an opportunity to let it sink in? You’re the man now, Chief of Division. That is your gig. Have you ever had an opportunity to only cease and really feel that?” DuBois requested.
“You recognize, the reality of the matter isn’t any,” Harrison mentioned. “There’s a number of work that must be performed. I’m obsessed with this job. I’ve good executives round me, however I don’t actually have time to actually like, let is sink in as a result of I must get the job performed and I must get the job performed quick.”
“Marijuana is now authorized on this metropolis,” mentioned DuBois. “How does that complicate your job?”
“I’m involved concerning the high quality of life, to be sincere with you,” mentioned Harrison. “Like I mentioned, this can be a very, very tough job, simply making an attempt to maintain individuals protected.”
A number of high-profile hate crime instances are prime of thoughts. Simply this week, Brandon Elliott was arrested for the brutal assault on a 65-year-old Asian lady in Hell’s Kitchen.
“This can be a man who killed his personal mom. He was out on parole,” DuBois mentioned to Harrison.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking that this lady needed to cope with that,” Harrison replied.
Harrison credit the police and the group, a partnership he desires to see extra of.
“I’m simply so completely satisfied that folks got here ahead and referred to as our hotline, and we had been capable of make a reasonably speedy arrest in opposition to this particular person,” he mentioned.
“How do you get into the prevention enterprise right here, reasonably than the response enterprise? As a result of the Asian group is terrified. Day by day, to only stroll on the road, is a life and demise choice for lots of people, and that’s actually, that’s a tricky place to be,” DuBois mentioned.
“Should you do commit a hate crime, we’re going to come back and get you, and we’re going to carry you, we’re going to ensure you get charged with no matter it needs to be. That’s extraordinarily essential,” mentioned Harrison. “The second factor is group consciousness. I feel all group members want to come back collectively to verify they denounce these, these hate crimes.”
The videotaped demise of George Floyd led to a reckoning, even for police.
“What’s your intestine degree response?” DuBois requested.
“I’m disgusted. It’s disgusting. I’m not simply talking for myself. The entire NYPD is disgusted,” Harrison mentioned. “All of us assume he ought to be held accountable for that horrible act.”
“What does he deserve,” DuBois requested?
“He must be charged with the homicide,” mentioned Harrison.
“Convicted of homicide?” mentioned DuBois.
“Yeah, completely,” mentioned Harrison.
Requires police reform despatched 1000’s into the streets final summer time to protest Floyd’s demise. Many demonstrations had been peaceable, however there was looting, too.
Nevertheless, a report by Legal professional Normal Letitia James was extremely crucial of the NYPD and cited greater than 150 incidents of extreme pressure.
“What had been the teachings of the summer time’s demonstrations?” requested DuBois.
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“I don’t assume group affairs was out in entrance of a number of these protests to start with,” Harrison mentioned. “Going ahead, they’ll be main the cost, concerning working with the protesters to guarantee that they do protest peacefully.”
“The Derek Chauvin homicide trial, how ready is town for response? How do you put together for one thing like that?” DuBois mentioned.
“We’re placing issues in place now. We’re ensuring that we’ve all of our officers – 35,000 – able to go together with the press of a finger,” mentioned Harrison. “It’s a priority that we’d’ve not have caught final time as a result of it simply got here out of nowhere. This time, we’re method forward of it, a month prematurely, to only ensure all officers are able to go, they’re able to be deployed.”
Chief Harrison joined the pressure in 1992, simply months after racial unrest in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
“Describe the local weather then and your mindset, and your pals’. You’re changing into a cop, what was that like?” DuBois requested.
“It was a tough choice. It wasn’t the favored choice inside my mates that I grew up with. However now they have a look at me and say, ‘Wow, man.’ They’re very, very pleased with me.”
However he was an preliminary skeptic of police after what he describes as destructive encounters with cops when he was a youngster.
“The way in which the cops discuss to me and my mates, demeaning us. It was a significant turnoff,” Harrison mentioned. “Simply how they interacted with us, in distinction of what we’re doing in the present day. It’s, it was one thing the place I, I used to be simply turned off by legislation enforcement, being pulled out the automobile, being placed on the bottom, searched in my car.”
“Occurred greater than as soon as?” DuBois requested.
“It occurred a number of occasions… Not simply South Jamaica. Locations the place I frolicked. Generally I might be up in Harlem. It will occur up there as nicely… typically in Brooklyn, relying on the place the social gathering was at, we’ll say,” Harrison mentioned.
“How do you persuade African American males on this metropolis to develop into cops? How do you make that case given the divide, given the stress, given the distrust on either side,” requested DuBois.
“So, one of many considerations, and that is the place I used to be responsible, is don’t paint everyone with a broad brush,” mentioned Harrison. “And the second is that this, we’ve a number of nice executives which have moved up within the ranks. Jeff Maddrey, Juanita Holmes, Kim Royston.”
“Gonna be onerous or simple? How do you think about that to play out?” mentioned DuBois.
“You recognize, if I may inform my story and my destructive interactions and inform them how I went from A to Z, I feel they’ll be receptive,” mentioned Harrison.
In his early years within the NYPD, Harrison was an undercover officer. He was awarded the division’s Fight Cross for his actions throughout a 1995 gun battle in Bedford-Stuyvesant that left his associate wounded.
“It was only a scary evening in my life. Simply seeing that my associate was shot. However I do need to say this about Michael Stoney, whereas he was on the bottom with a gunshot, he’s nonetheless taking pictures on the perpetrator himself. To me, that’s heroism,” Harrison mentioned.
“How usually do you consider that second?” DuBois requested.
“In all probability one per week,” mentioned Harrison. “And the explanation why I say that’s due to the job that I’m in, and the various heroic acts that the women and men on this police division do.”
“How do you make the general public assured that weapons are going to be faraway from the road?” DuBois requested.
“The work remains to be being performed. Sadly, one of many issues that we’re seeing is much more individuals are carrying weapons,” mentioned Harrison. “That, with a mix of, you understand, individuals have open instances and are again on the streets. And that’s the place the issue lies. It’s was some extent the place, carrying an unlawful firearm has been was a smack on the wrist.”
“What does police reform appear to be from the place you sit?” requested DuBois.
“I’ve all the time mentioned that we’ve to try ourselves. Do we’ve to make some adjustments throughout the NYPD? Completely,” mentioned Harrison. “This fact of the matter is that this, a number of adjustments, we’ve already had in place. One in all them I can throw at you is the chokehold invoice.”
“How frightened are you concerning the officers’ morale going ahead,” mentioned DuBois.
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“I’m involved. I’m involved. You recognize, phrases matter, and it looks like a number of phrases which might be popping out now are going in opposition to the officers which might be right here to guard town,” Harrison mentioned. “However we’ve to discover a method, particularly myself, have to search out methods to maintain them motivated.”