Plan Reining In Police Response to Protests Can Go Ahead, Judge Rules

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New York City can go ahead with an agreement to overhaul how the Police Department handles demonstrations, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday, rejecting arguments from the police officers’ union that the changes would endanger officers and the public.

The judge, Colleen McMahon of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said in her ruling that the union, the Police Benevolent Association, had failed to show that safety would be compromised by the agreement, which calls for a gradual response to demonstrations rather than an immediate show of force.

“There is simply no evidence, let alone substantial evidence, that the public interest would be disserved if the settlement were approved,” she said.

If anything, Judge McMahon said, the methods the union proposed — responding quickly to protests with escalated force — would most likely be “counterproductive.”

The judge’s decision arrived as the city was engulfed in a fresh round of protests. There have been hundreds since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and on Wednesday the authorities were preparing for disruptions to President Biden’s visit to New York.

The police union responded angrily to the decision to let the settlement go ahead. “The next time a peaceful protest is hijacked by rioters, the next time our roads, bridges or subways are shut down by agitators, New Yorkers should remember that their city chose to encourage these disruptions by signing onto this misguided settlement,” said Patrick Hendry, president of the P.B.A., in a statement.

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