In the late spring of 2020, thousands of people took to the streets of NYC after George Floyd was killed.
Right along with them were the NYPD officers who received scathing criticism months later for what they did and did not do.
"We were certainly not prepared for what we saw because it was unthinkable," said NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker.
And that says a lot. Tucker has nearly five decades of law enforcement experience and has been front and center at thousands of protests.
He said most partly resembled the events of last May and June, but that wasn't the entire picture.
Also at play was a well-organized group that was determined to, as the commissioner put it, hijack peaceful protests and attack police.
"They were keeping track of our resources, knew where our people were and weren't," Tucker said.
Once the dust settled, an independent review found the NYPD dropped the ball, had no clear defined plan, and when it came to certain tactics, actually heightened tensions.
"It wasn't as if our tactics were poor to begin with, I think they were flawed in some respects," Tucker said.
There were calls for change, something he said has been a priority, as they looked at gaps and where things went wrong.
"We are training on First Amendment, just to remind our officers on peoples' right to protest and our responsibility to allow them to do so and protect them," Tucker said.
But the writing had been on the wall for several days. By the time protests broke out in New York City, demonstrators had already clashed with police in cities all across the country.
"It's a valuable lesson and you take what you can from the mistakes and turn those around," Tucker said.
The commissioner also pointed out many of the violent agitators are being federally prosecuted.
"Hopefully that will put a sting into their aggressive nature....one thing is clear we will not tolerate it," Tucker said.
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