New York Disbands Plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit, Reassigns 600 Officers

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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  • The New York Police Department disbanded a 600-person plain clothes unit tasked with taking illegal guns off the street, the department said Monday.
  • The unit was involved in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to slice NYPD funding as calls for reform heat up across the country. 

The New York Police Department’s anti-crime unit has been disbanded, the department announced on Monday. 

The citywide unit consisted of roughly 600 plainclothes officers tasked with removing illegal guns from the streets, NBC News reported.

The change represents “a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city,” Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference Monday. “I would consider this in the realm of closing the last chapters of stop, question and frisk,” he said.

Daniel Pantaleo, a member of the unit, in 2014 used a chokehold on Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died shortly afterwards. The Justice Department opted not to charge Pantaleo last year. Weeks later however, Pantaleo was fired from the New York Police Department.

The move to disband the unit comes as a nationwide movement to reform policing picks up steam in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, video shows. (RELATED: Minneapolis City Council Unanimously Votes To Get Rid Of Police)

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed police reform legislation with a number of provisions, including a requirement that police officers report within six hours every time they discharge their weapon.

Cuomo signed the “Say Their Name” reform package last week to “help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine the state’s criminal justice system,” according to a statement. The package also banned chokeholds and prohibited false race-based 911 reports.

“Police reform is long overdue in this state and this nation, and New York is once again leading the way and enacting real change to end the systemic discrimination that exists in our criminal justice and policing systems,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These critical reforms will help improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the "Say Their Name" reform during his daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on June 12, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

Cuomo signs the “Say Their Name” reform (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

There is also a move to defund, or even disband, police departments across the country. The Minneapolis City Council voted to dismantle its police department last week.

Meanwhile, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York pledged last week to slice NYPD’s budget, according to The New York Times. De Blasio said he would take money from the police department and put it towards youth and social services.

“The city will own whatever harm comes from defunding the police department,” Vincent Vallelong, vice president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York told the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Debate Rages On Police Reform, Role Of Police Unions In Wake Of Floyd’s Death)

City officials have every right to defund the police, Vallelong noted, but he said they will have to be ready for the consequences of such a move.

The city must decide what kinds of cuts it will make to the police department by June 30, The Wall Street Journal reported. New York must also address the more than billion-dollar budget shortfall inflicted upon the city by the coronavirus pandemic by then.

The officers who were members of the disbanded unit will be transferred to other units in the New York Police Department, Shea said.

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