pictured: The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. Majority Leader of the NYS Assembly Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo is pictured top left (inset)
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery represent the latest horrifying chapter in the history of racism in America. Floyd and Taylor both died at the hands of law enforcement officers, while Arbery died at the hands of three White men acting as vigilantes.
Last week, following days of demonstrations and protests across the country demanding justice for these police involved murders, the New York State Assembly and Senate led by the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, passed sweeping reforms that will transform the way policing is conducted across the state.
“These changes are something that we as members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus have championed for years,” stated Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly.
Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes.
Some of these changes are aimed at making the disciplinary records of those sworn to serve and protect the public more transparent. These reforms include:
• The Repeal of 50-a which will make disciplinary records of police officers accessible to the public.
• The Stat Act which requires law enforcement to release demographic data.
• The Firearm Reporting Act which mandates notification whenever a police officer uses their gun.
• Chokeholds are now banned and officers who utilize this maneuver could face felony charges.
• Police officers will now be required to provide medical care or assistance for anyone in their custody who requires it.
• Racial profiling is now illegal.
• Anyone who files a false complaint or 911 call could face criminal charges and civil damages, like the recent case involving Amy Cooper who made a false report against Christian Cooper, a Black man in Central Park.
• The establishment of the Office of Special Investigations which would give the NYS Attorney General the authority to investigate fatal encounters between the police and the public. (A.1601/S.2574b) Also, this bill would establish the Police Inspector General to provide oversight of state and local police statewide.
Also, the public has the legal right to record and monitor the police and we passed legislation that requires body cameras for NYS police.
“I’m proud to have voted with my colleagues in favor of repealing civil rights law section 50-a.,” continued Majority Leader Peoples-stokes. “This legislation is not about being against the police, but rather being for transparency as it relates to officers’ interaction with the public. We need increased accountability to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers that officers are sworn to protect and serve.. .
“This is only the beginning, we need to continue the conversation to make systemic changes to create racial, social justice and economic equity for everyone.”
“We, the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus are hopeful that this legislation is a step in the right direction toward doing just that: making sure all law enforcement officers live up to the oath they took to serve and protect the citizens of this great state,” noted Hon. Peoples-Stokes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the police reform package of bills, also known as “Say Their Name” Reform Agenda Package on Friday, June 12, 2020. The Governor went on to state that mayors and police departments that do not reform their policies will lose state funding beginning with next year’s 2021-2022 state budget.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.