- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The New York City Police Department’s new “retraining” program reportedly instructs officers to close their eyes and take a deep breath when confronted in tense situations.

The New York Post reports that the advice is part of a $35 million “smart policing” primer by Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton. So far, eight out of every 10 officers has given the program a negative review at the end training, an official told the Post.

One officer who went through the three-day program called it unrealistic and “silly.” He said at one point they were given breathing exercises to learn how to calm down in a hostile situation.

“They said if you find yourself in a situation that’s getting heated, take a step back, close your eyes and take a deep breath,” he told the Post. “That’s pretty funny — that I would close my eyes in a tense situation.”

Another officer called the lectures “smoke and mirrors” in order to calm public tensions following the police-involved death of Eric Garner.

“They want you to stop and think about everything before you do anything, but a lot of times cops have to make a split-second decision, and they don’t have the luxury of stopping and thinking,” he told the Post.

The officer said he was paid overtime to attend the course, while others have been able to train during their normal shifts, the Post reported.

During the first two days, officers are lectured on cultural sensitivity and “the legitimacy of policing,” sources told the Post. On the third day, they learn techniques meant to be used instead of the illegal chokehold, the Post reported.

Mr. de Blasio has promised that his retraining program “will have an impact on millions of people, because every interaction that every officer has with their fellow New Yorkers after they are trained again will be different.”

But officers say the eight-hour lectures are boring and useless, with some falling asleep during class because of their late-night shifts.

“It’s three days, it’s boring and there’s no real tactics,” a police source told the Post. “They’re not putting them in scenarios. Cops felt they would get more tactical training in light of the Eric Garner case.”

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