Cuomo signs police accountability laws in turnaround for lawmakers

Originally published in Newsday on June 12, 2020.

The 2020 session of the State Legislature in Albany began with some Democrats playing defense on criminal justice and pushing for more conservative measures.

Since then, it’s been an abrupt turn resulting in a session that might be remembered for ushering in some of most progressive police oversight measures in decades, a sweeping package signed into law Friday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and driven by the George Floyd protests nationwide.

The Democratic governor approved a 10-bill package that will loosen restrictions on police disciplinary records, force state troopers to wear body cameras while on patrol, ban chokeholds, establish the “right to record police activity” and make permanent a special prosecutorial unit to investigate deadly civilian-police interactions.

The Democratic-led state Senate and Assembly approved the bills earlier in the week.

“What we passed the last couple of days was monumental,” Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) said. “The stars had aligned … during a moment of deep thinking about police accountability.”

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