By RENEE SAFF
City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday urging the State Legislature to mandate biannual CPR training and certification for New York cops, a state bill that still hasn’t been passed six years after an officer’s inability to perform CPR led to the death of an 11-year-old girl.
In addition to the resolution, the Council also unanimously passed a bill requiring the New York Police Department to publish an annual report on the number of officers trained and retrained in CPR and automated external defibrillation every calendar year.
“Our goal is to save lives,” said Carmen Ojeda, mother of Briana Ojeda, the 11-year-old girl who inspired Briana’s Law, which is the bill that City Council is urging the state to adopt.
The Ojeda family’s quest to save lives began six years ago, when 11-year-old Briana Ojeda died on August 27th, 2010 during an asthma attack in a Carroll Gardens playground. As Briana’s mother was rushing her daughter to Long Island University, she turned the wrong way down a one-way street and was pulled over by a police officer who refused to perform CPR on her daughter, claiming that he didn’t know how. By the time a passerby offered assistance, Briana’s fate had already been sealed. She died shortly after reaching the emergency room.
“The police officer who had stopped Briana’s mother, Carmen, on her way to the hospital did not perform potentially life saving CPR because he said he did not feel qualified to do so,” said Councilman Stephen Levin, who is sponsoring the measures promoting life-saving certification. “Last month, Briana would have celebrated her 18th birthday.”
The Council is not empowered to mandate CPR training for the NYPD. Instead, the bill needs to be passed by the State Legislature. Briana’s law passed the Assembly many times before, but the Senate has repeatedly blocked it.
“We pass the Assembly every year, but we get stuck in the Senate,” said Michael Ojeda, Briana’s father. “But with the help of the Council I feel that with the resolution it would go a little further and pass this year.”
While the passing of Briana’s Law is solely up to the state, City Councilmembers continue to support the Ojeda family in their search for justice.
“You have shown such incredible strength, and poise, and dedication in turning your grief into action,” Levin said. “We commend you on your strength, we honor the sacrifices that you made, and we honor the memory of your daughter with this legislation.”
Photo by Renee Saff