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Police Union Proposes $500 Reward For Good Samaritans Who Help Officers Arrest Suspects

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City police sergeants union is calling on citizens to get involved when they seen an officer struggling with a suspect.

Bystanders would receive a cash reward for helping with a take-down, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Wednesday.

Here's how it would work: If you see a police officer trying to make an arrest but struggling with the person resisting, the SBA wants you to help the cop. 

Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said respect for the police is at an all time low, so creating an incentive to help police could reverse that trend. He explained how it would work should a civilian find themselves in a situation where they see an officer trying to arrest someone who is resisting. He's hoping a cash reward of $500, given in certain instances, will encourage people to put down their phones and "do the right thing."

"We recommend that they identify themselves as helping an officer. We recommend that they take direction from the officer, 'grab his hand or hold him down,' or just give us that extra edge," Mullins said. "I've made lots of arrests. When someone comes to help you, and generally it's another officer that comes to help us, the difference between another person applying pressure or grabbing someone's hand is significant in ending a situation that can only get worse."

The SBA is working with retired police officer and Brooklyn state Sen. Martin Golden to draft legislation that would enhance current Good Samaritan laws, essentially helping people who help police.

The NYPD, however, does not support the proposal. The department wouldn't make anyone available for an on-camera interview but said in a statement: "The NYPD encourages people to support their cops by calling 911. The department doesn't want to see people put in harm's way unnecessarily to collect a reward."

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association also isn't for the reward program, saying Wednesday the best solution is better policies from City Hall to remove hostility.

CBS2's Rozner asked the union if there would be any liability for civilians who get involved in arrests and was told it strongly believes no one will get injured, and that the program will not encourage more vigilantes.

Local residents have mixed feelings on the issue.

"Ridiculous!" NoMad's Van Huyghue said.

"I think I would jump right in and just go for it," added Ellen Verrusio of Westchester County.

"Nah, it's not worth my life," Union Square's Jeremiah Thomas-William said.

"Maybe it will help some people take initiative and step in and be the help people need," added Leandra Leseur of Jersey City.

Former NYPD sergeant Manny Gomez says it's a great idea, citing one time when he asked for help.

"I actually called out to people in street who were standing around and staring to help me and no one did, so, hopefully, this inspires people to help officers in need," Gomez said.

Senator Martin Golden says he's working on an amendment to the Good Samaritan Law, so people who do protect police officers are protected from lawsuits.

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