The NYPD commissioner on Thursday defended his cops’ handling of the chaotic fracas at a Brooklyn benefits center that saw a baby torn from his mom’s arms — adding that policy reforms are on the way at the Human Resources Administration, whose guards were also involved.
“Cops have difficult jobs. They’re challenging,” top cop James O’Neill told host Joe Piscopo on his AM 970 radio show. “Our two cops got there and it was already a tense situation. I saw the body-worn camera footage and it looks like our cops are doing their best to de-escalate it.”
O’Neill added that the responding officers were each relatively new to the job, and said he felt they did all they could under the circumstances.
“I know we had one cop with three years [in the department], one cop with a year on the job, and from what I’ve seen so far, they did their best to de-escalate the situation,” he said.
Still, O’Neill echoed his previous condemnation of the incident, calling the viral footage “absolutely disturbing.”
The NYPD has launched an internal probe of the incident, as has the HRA, which has already announced that two of its guards will be placed on modified duty pending an investigation.
O’Neill revealed that HRA’s investigation has already led to some protocol changes.
“Steve Banks, the commissioner at HRA, is conducting an internal review and we’ll have a joint statement coming out shortly,” O’Neill said. “Commissioner Banks is going to come up with certain protocol to make sure that they do everything they have to do and need to do for their clients before they dial 911 and get the NYPD involved.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Policemen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch on Wednesday focused blame on the HRA, whose guards were the first to engage mom Jazmine Headley last Friday in a Boerum Hill benefits center.
Headley, 23, had her 1-year-old son wrested from her arms, was arrested and spent several days on Rikers Island due to an outstanding New Jersey warrant, before she was ordered released Tuesday night.
O’Neill extended his well wishes to Headley, who on Wednesday reported to New Jersey court to iron out that warrant.
“The baby is fine. Ms. Headley is fine too,” said the top cop. “Hopefully she moves on with her life and has a good life.”
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