In Albany, legislators pass more police reforms
Jun 11, 2020 6:30 am
Yancey Roy in Newsday reports that New York lawmakers passed more police reforms on June 10. They have now approved ten bills in their three days back in Albany, after weeks of protests around the country in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. Legislators voted June 10 to make permanent a special prosecutor’s office investigating cases in which a person dies in an encounter with law enforcement. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had created the prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office by executive order in 2015. Now it becomes permanent when Cuomo signs the bill. Republicans say the office takes away authority from locally elected prosecutors, while Democrats counter that those local prosecutors often are chummy with local police. Lawmakers also voted to create, mostly on party lines, the “Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office,” also within the attorney general’s office. Earlier in the week they voted to make police disciplinary records subject to disclosure, outlaw chokeholds, establish a right to record police activity, and ordered body cameras for State Police. Cuomo has said he will sign the bills. “Make no mistake, we know that what we did is not a cure. We know it’s a first step. It acknowledges that laws, alone, are important, but they can’t fix racism in America,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “But, it begins to root out injustice and to bring justice to our justice system. It is a step, and it is a path to equality.” Other localities are passing their own police reforms. On June 10, the Times Union reports, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy signed an executive order banning police chokeholds, and creating several other reforms, a day before a scheduled demonstration outside city hall. There was also a protest in Kingston June 10, and another planned for Saugerties June 11, and two other protests in Chatham and West Point scheduled for June 13.