On Wednesday, New York City’s top cop and most ardent broken windows proponent urged stiffer penalties for resisting arrest. After a hearing before state lawmakers in Lower Manhattan, Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters that the charge should be raised from a misdemeanor to a felony. “I think a felony would be very helpful in terms of raising the bar significantly in the penalty for the resistance of arrest,” said Bratton.
According to the Observer, he claims that the current penalties do not “deter the nearly 2,000 resisting arrest charges each year.” Considering the implications that a felony conviction carries and how often the same cops routinely abuse the resisting arrest charge, this is not a policy that will benefit any community.
In December, WNYC analyzed the numbers:
Police departments around the country consider frequent charges of resisting arrest a potential red flag, as some officers might add the charge to justify use of force. WNYC analyzed NYPD records and found 51,503 cases with resisting arrest charges since 2009. Just five percent of officers who made arrests during that period account for 40% of resisting arrest cases — and 15% account for almost 3/4 of such cases.
With only a relatively small group of officers constantly crying wolf or in this case resisting arrest, how can Bratton justify proposing such an extreme measure that would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on demonstrators and communities of color alike?