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Union pushes against 2023 agreement that overhauled how NYPD can respond to protests

The overhaul limited NYPD’s ability to use “kettling” tactics and implemented a four-tiered strategy dictating when officers can take enforcement during protests


Howard Simmons

By Joanna Putman

NEW YORK — The Police Benevolent Association is advocating to pull back regulations on how the NYPD can respond to protests, the New York Post reported.

City and police leaders agreed to the overhaul in September 2023, which limited officers’ ability to use “kettling” tactics, or the penning in of groups of protesters to arrest them. The agreement also implemented a four-tiered strategy which dictates when the NYPD can take enforcement action during protests.

The PBA is now challenging the agreement, saying that the rules are preventing officers from using their “gut instincts,” according to the report.

PBA lawyer Robert Smith stated in a federal court hearing on Monday that the four-tiered approach slows down police responses in which speed is essential, according to the report.

“It’s crazy to disable police officers from being there to deal with possible unpleasantness, or even worse than unpleasantness,” Smith argued. “You have to allow gut feelings and subjective judgments to play a role.”

Those arguing in favor of the deal state that its balancing of police action and First Amendment rights are reasonable, and that killing it would give unprecedented veto power to unions, according to the report.

The PBA also holds that the agreement makes conditions more dangerous for officers, according to the report.

“Today, our city is enduring almost daily disruptions to its critical infrastructure by agitators whose stated goal is to prevent New Yorkers from going about their business in peace,” New York PBA president Patrick Hendry said in a statement. “The settlement is not only dangerous for the PBA members assigned to protests — it is also dangerous for peaceful protestors and the public at large. The court must reject it.”