Controversial $500 ‘Help a Cop’ Program Not Aimed at ‘Creating Vigilantes,’ NY Police Union Says

A police union’s latest initiative has drawn scrutiny from the New York Police Department.

The Sergeant’s Benevolent Association is now offering cash rewards to everyday citizens who intervene to help police arrest and restrain criminals, CBS New York reported. Good Samaritans can earn up to $500 for stepping in during potentially dangerous situations.

Help a Cop

The proposed “Help a Cop” program would offer civilians a cash reward for stepping in to help police arrest suspects. (Image courtesy of Spectrum News NY1)

The program is “… designed for people to get involved in their communities to support the police,” but not to act as “vigilantes,” union president Ed Mullins said at a news conference. adding that respect for police is at an “all time low.”

Mullins hopes to reverse this so-called “trend” by offering a cash incentive to folks who find themselves in a situation where they see a cop struggling to restrain a suspect. The goal?? To encourage people to put their down their phones and “do the right thing.” A panel would ultimately decide who’s eligible to receive the $500 reward.

To participate in the program, Mullins asked that civilians identify themselves to an officer first before offering to intervene. The civilian should take direction from the officer, he said, whether it be “grab his (the suspect’s) hand or hold him down” or “just give us that extra edge.”

According to Spectrum News NY1, Brooklyn Sen. Martin Golden is working to amend the state’s Good Samaritan Law to protect those from liability if they choose to help officers. The legislation is still being drafted.

“We don’t want civilians to come out and start beating people with bats,” Mullins added. “We want you to help restrain, and follow the direction of an officer that is out there … the difference between another person applying pressure or grabbing someone’s hand is significant in ending a situation that can only get worse.”

The NYPD has expressed grave concerns with the program, however, arguing it could put civilians at risk. The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, another police union, has also come out against it.

“The NYPD encourages people to support their cops by calling 911,” the department said in a statement Wednesday. “… The department doesn’t want to see people put in harm’s way unnecessarily to collect a reward.”

The new program has drawn mixed reactions from locals, with some folks believing it’ll only cause more issues and others thrilled that officers will finally have more help.

“Nah, it’s not worth my life,” said Jeremiah Thomas-William, who lives in Union Square, Manhattan.

Jersey City resident Leandra Leseur thought differently, saying, “Maybe it will help some people take initiative and step in and be the help people need.”

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