By POLITICO StaffLaw enforcement officers are using “spench” as a catchall term to describe an aggressive, often violent response to an arrest.
The new term, coined by an NYPD officer who has worked in the department for nearly a decade, comes as the department tries to avoid a public backlash over the use of force by its officers against people who don’t comply with officers’ orders to stop resisting arrest.
As it does in many other departments across the country, the NYPD is considering adding “s” to the term to refer to “force” when officers respond to an illegal arrest.
But the change could come in an attempt to avoid an outcry from officers who feel threatened by the term.
While some critics have called for the NYPD to stop using the term, the department has long refused to change its policy on “force,” which is why some New Yorkers have been calling on it to stop.
On Thursday, the city’s attorney general, Michael Avenatti, said the NYPD was considering adding the term “suspect” to its policy, in a move that could help it avoid a backlash.
Avenatti said he expects to discuss the issue at a news conference Friday.
He said he was encouraged by the support from New Yorkers for a change.
In a statement, the New York Police Department said the term is “inconsistent with the NYPD’s policies and has been misused by officers to describe their behavior, and it has not served the public well.”
The department said the “solution” to use the term in the context of “force is for the term itself to be removed from the NYPD Police Department’s police use-of-force policies and the NYPD and the Department of Justice to work together to develop one that better reflects the realities of policing and the department’s mission.”
The NYPD’s policy on force is part of a larger, sweeping overhaul of policing in the city that includes reforms to police-community relations and a push for more transparency.
The city’s police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, said Thursday he would seek to use language similar to what the department said in April to describe the use- of-force by officers in the past month.
But Kelly did not specify how he would change the policy.
The term “forceful” has been used in the NYPD since its inception, but it has never been used as a term of endearment.
In his press briefing, Kelly said the department wanted to be “clear” about the term’s meaning in its policy and the public was entitled to know how it was being used.