senate Bill S811

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Creates a state commission to investigate patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 09, 2013 referred to finance

S811 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
Commissions
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S3570A
2009-2010: S7085

S811 - Bill Texts

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Creates a state commission to investigate patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel in NYS; provides that the commission shall consist of 9 members including 5 members appointed by chief judge of the court of appeals and 4 members appointed by legislative leaders.

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BILL NUMBER:S811

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
creating a state commission to investigate patterns and practices of
unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of
law enforcement personnel in
New York
state

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The purpose of this bill is to create and empower a commission to
conduct a comprehensive investigation of misconduct, abuse of power
and political interference with respect to law enforcement personnel
within the state and report to the legislature on structural changes
that can be made to reform the institution.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
The Commission shall consist of nine members to be appointed as follows:
Five members, including the chair, shall be appointed by the chief
judge of the New York state court of appeals; one member each shall
be appointed by the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of
the assembly, the minority leader of the senate and the minority
leader of the assembly. The members of the commission shall be either
former judges or distinguished professionals with significant law
enforcement experience. Substantial consideration shall be given to
individuals who are experienced former members of the state police.

The Commission may request and shall receive from any court in the
state and from any subdivision, department, board, bureau,
commission, officer agency or other instrumentality of the state or
of any political subdivision thereof such facilities, assistance and
data as it deems necessary or desirable for the proper execution of
its powers and duties and to effectuate the purposes set forth in
this act. It will be obligated to produce a report to the legislature
within 180 days of its formation that recommends policy and practice
changes that can be made to reform the institution, and free the
state police from future political interference or coercion.

To the extent that evidence of criminal behavior is uncovered by the
investigation undertaken by the commission, the commission shall
refer such matters to the appropriate prosecutorial authority.

JUSTIFICATION:
This legislation is necessitated by a troubling pattern throughout three
different gubernatorial administrations of inappropriate and possibly
unlawful behavior by law enforcement personnel within New York State,
largely emanating from the Executive Services Detail. Most recently,
this behavior took the form of possible intimidation of a female
victim involved in a domestic violence dispute with a high ranking
member of the Paterson Administration. While this specific incident
is being investigated, under the administrations of the two previous
governors there were several documented instances where state
troopers were also subject to improper political influence and used
in ways that undermine the very fabric of our democracy.


In 2007, a scandal erupted involving former Governor Eliot Spitzer's
use of state troopers to monitor and gather travel information about
former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno for purposes of trying to
discredit a political adversary. Under the Pataki Administration, the
state police were found to have electronically discarded a domestic
dispute complaint involving a political ally, former Rep. John
Sweeney, in order to shield him from public scrutiny and
embarrassment. These are just two of several occurrences that have
already been documented by the Office of the New York State Attorney
General.

The proposed commission is fashioned in part after the Knapp
Commission which investigated police corruption in the 1970's and the
Mollen Commission which investigated police brutality and corruption
in the 1990's, The role of the state trooper is to protect and serve
the public. It is not to protect and serve the political interests of
the Governor or administration in power. The proposed temporary
commission will undertake to determine what has gone wrong during the
administration of three different governors and recommend concrete
measures the legislature can implement to restore institutional
integrity and accountability to the state police.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2010: S.708S/A.10199 - Held in Senate Finance Committee
2011: S.3570A

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
To be determined.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                   811

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  ADAMS  -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Finance

AN ACT to establish a state commission to investigate patterns and prac-
  tices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of  members  of
  law enforcement personnel in the state

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Legislative findings.  The  legislature  hereby  finds  and
declares as follows:
  The  legislation  is  necessitated by a troubling pattern and practice
throughout at least three  different  gubernatorial  administrations  of
inappropriate  and possibly unlawful behavior by law enforcement person-
nel in this state, largely emanating from the executive services  detail
of  the  division of state police. Most recently, this behavior took the
form of possible intimidation of a female victim involved in a  domestic
violence  dispute  with  a  high ranking member of the Paterson adminis-
tration. While this specific incident is being investigated,  under  the
administrations  of the two previous governors, there were several docu-
mented instances where state troopers  were  also  subject  to  improper
political  influence  and used in ways that undermine the very fabric of
our democracy.
  By way of example, in 2007, a scandal erupted involving former  gover-
nor  Eliot  Spitzer's use of state troopers to monitor and gather travel
information about former temporary president of the senate Joseph  Bruno
for  purposes  of  trying  to discredit a political adversary. Under the
Pataki administration, the division of state police was  found  to  have
electronically  cleansed  a domestic dispute complaint involving a poli-
tical ally and former congressmember John Sweeney, in  order  to  shield
him  from  public  scrutiny  and  embarrassment.  These  are just two of
several occurrences that have already been documented by the  department

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02846-01-3

S. 811                              2

of  law.  It  is the intent of this legislation to provide for the inde-
pendent and comprehensive investigation of this  pattern  and  practice,
and recommend steps the legislature can implement to reform law enforce-
ment practices in the state.
  S  2.  A state commission is hereby established to investigate certain
patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the  part
of  members of law enforcement personnel in the state including, but not
limited to the executive  services  detail  of  the  division  of  state
police,  that  result from inappropriate or coercive political interfer-
ence.
  S 3. The commission shall consist of nine members to be  appointed  as
follows:  five  members,  including the chair, shall be appointed by the
chief judge of the court of appeals; one member each shall be  appointed
by  the  temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly,
the minority leader of the senate and the minority leader of the  assem-
bly.    The  members  of the commission shall be either former judges or
distinguished professionals with significant law enforcement experience.
Substantial consideration shall be given to individuals who are  experi-
enced  former  members  of  law  enforcement agencies in the state.  The
members of the commission shall be appointed within  thirty  days  after
the effective date of this act.
  S  4.  The members of the commission shall receive no compensation for
their services, but shall be allowed their actual and necessary expenses
incurred in the performance of their duties hereunder.
  S 5. The commission may employ and at pleasure remove  such  personnel
as  it  may  deem necessary for the performance of its functions and fix
their compensation within the amounts made  available  by  appropriation
therefor.  Such commission may meet and hold public and/or private hear-
ings within or without the state, and shall have all  the  powers  of  a
legislative  committee  pursuant  to  the legislative law, including the
power to issue subpoenas.
  S 6. For the accomplishment of its purposes, the commission  shall  be
authorized and empowered to undertake any studies, inquiries, surveys or
analyses  it  may  deem relevant through its own personnel or in cooper-
ation with or by agreement with any other public or private agency.
  S 7. The commission may request and shall receive from  any  court  in
the  state  and from any subdivision, department, board, bureau, commis-
sion, office, agency or other instrumentality of the  state  or  of  any
political subdivision thereof such facilities, assistance and data as it
deems  necessary or desirable for the proper execution of its powers and
duties and to effectuate the purposes set forth in this act.
  S 8.  To the extent that evidence of criminal behavior is uncovered by
the investigation undertaken by the  commission,  the  commission  shall
refer such matters to the appropriate prosecutorial authority.
  S 9. The commission shall make a report of its findings, including any
recommendations  for  systematic  changes,  as it may deem necessary and
appropriate, to the governor, the temporary president of the senate  and
the  speaker of the assembly no later than one hundred eighty days after
the effective date of this act and then every one  hundred  eighty  days
thereafter.
  S 10. This act shall take effect immediately.

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