Senator Anna Kaplan Urges Action on Her $500 Million Grant Program for Law Enforcement in the Upcoming Legislative Session

Originally published in Malayalam Daily News

Today, New York State Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-Port Washington) is urging her colleagues in State Government to prioritize the passage of legislation she introduced with Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester), S.8222/A.9333, The Criminal Justice Infrastructure Investment Grant Program, when the legislature returns to session in January. The bill would provide $500 million in grants to law enforcement organizations across the State to upgrade and improve their technological infrastructure in order to keep communities safe and improve the efficient administration of justice.

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said “Our law enforcement agencies deserve to have the best equipment possible in order to keep our communities safe, but we know that many police departments, Sheriffs’ offices, and District Attorneys’ offices lack the modern technological infrastructure they need to work most efficiently. The $500 million grant program I’ve proposed would give our law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe, make our courts more efficient, and reduce costs for local taxpayers. I’m calling on my colleagues in State Government to prioritize passage of this urgently needed legislation when we return to Albany in January.”

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said “The right to a fair and speedy trial is essential to our justice system. New York’s lack of technological infrastructure however is preventing the speedy and efficient administration of pre-trial services in our State, which is why I’m happy to sponsor the Criminal Justice Infrastructure Grant Program bill with NYS Senator Anna Kaplan. With the funds authorized by this legislation New York will not only speed up pre-trial services, but also lower costs to taxpayers through decreased overtime demands, less delays in court proceedings, and more easily accessible trial materials. It will also give law enforcement the tools they need to help make our communities safer. I thank Senator Kaplan for her partnership on this bill and together we will fight to get it passed for New Yorkers.”

Since the enactment of bail reform and criminal justice reform measures intended to protect every New Yorker’s right to a fair and speedy trial, there have been heightened demands placed on the criminal justice system including law enforcement organizations, District Attorneys’ offices, and the courts, in order to facilitate implementation of the reforms. In some jurisdictions, a lack of modern technological equipment has created backlogs and led to delays in the administration of justice along with higher overtime expenses for municipalities.

The Criminal Justice Infrastructure Investment Grant Program seeks to improve the technological infrastructure that is responsible for the efficient administration of justice in the State of New York, by providing grants to law enforcement organizations across the State specifically to upgrade and improve their technological infrastructure. Examples of infrastructure that would qualify for grant funding under the program include computers, laptops, high speed printers and scanners, cloud storage for body-worn cameras, and electronic ankle monitors.

The total amount of grants to be given out statewide would total $500 million and eligibility is open to any municipal department having responsibility for enforcing the criminal laws, any court in the unified court system, sheriff’s offices, and district attorney’s offices, with no minimum grant amount.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr. said “The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has a robust corrections intelligence operation that is often instrumental in assisting law enforcement partners in solving crimes. Additional funding that can come from the bill proposed by Senator Anna Kaplan would provide us with the technology we need to expedite and expand our intelligence gathering and sharing initiatives that are a key part of keeping Suffolk County safe.”

Washington County District Attorney J. Anthony Jordan, President, District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, said “Since New York State’s expansive new laws related to criminal justice took effect, District Attorney’s offices have spent a great deal of time and money to find realistic and efficient ways to comply with new demands, especially related to discovery exchange and speedy trial. We have established new mechanisms for retrieving, preparing and exchanging evidence with those accused of crimes and their attorneys. However, this requires an ongoing investment in new and updated technology, additional cloud storage, additional staff and specialized staff training. Steady streams of adequate funding for updated technology are critical to the success of New York State’s landmark laws related to discovery and speedy trial. I urge our legislature to prioritize additional grant programs to help support the many initiatives undertaken around the state to help maintain the public’s trust in the criminal justice system.”