More legislation on police reform passes in Albany
Jun 10, 2020 6:30 am
An Associated Press survey found that the New York State Police are the largest primary state law enforcement agency not equipped with body cameras. Now they are saying they will launch a pilot program before the end of the year, albeit reluctantly. "If we see it within the next year or so, so be it. But I hope the Legislature does come up with the funding necessary for the cameras," said New York State Trooper Police Benevolent Association President Thomas Mungeer, Spectrum News reported. And News10 reported that the Troy Police still don't have body cameras even two years after funding came through. "We have... narrowed it down to possible vendors for selection of the body cameras,” said Troy Police Chief Brian Owens. Legislators in Albany continue to work this week to enact several new regulations for law enforcement officers. Both the State Senate and Assembly voted June 9 to repeal the 44-year-old statute, known as "50-a." The section of state civil rights law has been used to deny public access to the disciplinary records of police officers, corrections officers, and firefighters. Didi Barrett, the only local Democrat in the Assembly, voted for the repeal June 9. All the local Republicans in the State Senate voted against the repeal, including the retiring George Amedore, and Daphne Jordan, Sue Serino, and James Seward. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the measure. While Democrats promised police officers' disciplinary records would now be available but not personal information, Social Security numbers, or home addresses, Republicans denounced the repeal. Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan said, "What it allows is a flood of information requests to obtain information on officers who currently face heightened anti-police rhetoric." The Times Union reported that there was also pushback for reform from the city of Albany police union's president Greg McGee after Mayor Kathy Sheenan's executive order June 8 banning choke holds and instituting other reforms. “You have taken an isolated incident involving individuals who never should have been police officers and used them to step on the backs of your own officers,” McGee wrote in the letter to Sheehan. There have been many protests all over the country and throughout the Hudson Valley, including many days and nights in Albany since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police on May 25. On June 9 a massive Black Lives Matter sign was painted on Albany's Lark Street, just like the well-publicized painting on a street outside the White House. The Times Union reported it came from In Our Own Voices, an organization serving lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people of color, with help from the city of Albany. There were also protests June 9 in Mechanicville in Saratoga County, and Montgomery in Orange County. More are coming later in the week. On June 11 there is a "Saugerties Walks for Black Lives" event scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex. On June 13, protesters are organizing online for President Donald Trump's visit to West Point, where the U.S. Military Academy will hold a graduation ceremony. There is also a Facebook event page is up for a June 13 protest at 5:30 p.m. in Chatham.