Bratton: Raising Resisting Arrest to a Felony Would Be ‘Very Helpful’

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. (Photo:  Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. (Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton today called for the state to change resisting arrest to a felony charge.

Mr. Bratton testified today before a joint hearing of four State Senate committees, where he made a number of recommendations—including suggesting that the penalty increase for resisting arrest. Currently, resisting arrest is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum punishment of one year, which Mr. Bratton argued does not deter the nearly 2,000 resisting arrest charges each year.

“I think a felony would be very helpful in terms of raising the bar significantly in the penalty for the resistance of arrest,” Mr. Bratton told reporters after speaking at the hearing in lower Manhattan.

The top cop reiterated previous statements that resisting arrest is impermissible, and endangers both law enforcement and civilians.

“We need to get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t. You just can’t do it. It results in potential injuries to the officer, to the suspect. And we need to change that, and the way to change that is to start penalties for it,” he said.

He acknowledged that many cases may not be legitimate—advocates complain that resisting arrest is often the only charge against someone who was not resisting arrest for something else and that it’s often tossed out. Mr. Bratton said the department would expand its CompStat tracking program to monitor how many such charges are vacated.

“The vast majority might end up being dismissed,” he said, though he suggested district attorneys at times dismiss such charges out of hand. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.”

Mr. Bratton also called for laws instituting more severe penalties for fatally assaulting an officer, for attacking a school safety agent or auxiliary cop and for wearing a bullet-proof vest. He also recommended measures mandating bulletproof glass in all police cars, and for tighter regulations on civilian window tinting, as well as punishments for anyone who would publicize the address and other personal information of a police officer.