Last month, Police Commissioner William Bratton recommended increasing the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony. This was a bad idea then, and now the bad idea is spreading to the State Senate. Democrat Tony Avella of Queens has proposed a bill that would create a felony “aggravated resisting arrest” charge for people who have been convicted of resisting arrest twice in a ten year period, according to the New York Post.
The legislation is in response to protests following the failure to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner with a chokehold. Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold when Garner nonviolently resisted being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes.
Drawing the conclusion that penalties for resisting arrest are not strong enough from Garner’s death is insane. WNYC found that 5% of arresting NYPD officers accounted for 40% of filed resisting arrest charges during a five-year period, and expanding the sample size to 15% of officers expands it to three-quarters of charges. Upgrading from a misdemeanor to a felony would enable these bad apples to further abuse their power and put even further strain on the already overextended court and prison system.