Rochester Legislator Proposing Bill to Protect Witnesses in Homicide Cases

WHAM Staff

Originally published in Rochester News 13 WHAM

Rochester, N.Y. — Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-56th District, is pushing legislation to protect people who witness a homicide.

The Rochester lawmaker says the hesitancy of witnesses to come forward out of fear of retaliation stymies investigations.

His proposed legislation adds homicide crimes to the list of offenses for which the prosecution can withhold the disclosure of any 911 caller, victim, or witness. The defense still has a legal right to move the court for disclosure, if warranted.

Cooney says the legislation, if it becomes law, will help police departments across the state get more cooperation from witnesses and help families find closure.

Rochester Police Interim Chief David Smith says he supports the legislation.

"In 2021, the City of Rochester tragically experienced the highest number of murders in recorded history. Legislation such as the 'Homicide Witness Protection Act' is one of many steps needed to hold accountable the perpetrators of these horrific crimes," he said in a statement.