Over the past two days, I have been working hard to deliver common-sense reforms to the people of New York State. In response to the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, action was taken to increase transparency and renew faith in our justice system.
My colleagues and I passed 8 bills to address the disparity that exists within our system, particularly for black New Yorkers. These feats were only possible because of vocal protesters taking to the streets and making their concerns known. To those protesting injustice, thank you.
What Do These Bills Do?
S.6670B, the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, formally bans the use of chokeholds by members of law enforcement and any other form of obstructing a person’s airway that leads to serious injury or their death. Using that technique will be a crime, charged as a class C felony, which carries up to 15 years in state prison.
S.8496 repeals section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law, which prevents the public from viewing police personnel records even in instances of misconduct.
S.3253A guarantees that individuals have the right to record activities of law enforcement when that person is not under arrest. It will also protect the person’s right to maintain custody of that recording, meaning police would not be able to ask that it be deleted. If a member of law enforcement tries to prevent someone from recording their activities, either physically or verbally, the person will have the right to sue that officer under the measure.
S.8492 creates a civil penalty for individuals who call the police on individuals of a protected class when there is no immediate threat to person or property, or no evidence that a crime is being committed, or has been committed.
S.8493 requires police officers to use body-warn cameras while on patrol.
S.6601B requires police officers, peace officers, and other law enforcement representatives and entities to provide medical attention to people in custody.
S.1830C, the Police Statistics and Transparency Act (STAT), requires the state court system to track data on the racial breakdown of misdemeanor charges and violations.
S.2575B requires members of law enforcement to verbally report to their superior, within six hours, when they discharge their weapon, while on or off duty, in a situation where someone could be struck by a bullet. They will have to file a written report within two days.
Tomorrow, the legislature is set to vote on two additional pieces of legislation. I'll be voting in favor of:
S.3595B, which will establish a new investigative office to make recommendations regarding operations, policies, programs, and practices of law enforcement.
S.2574C, which will establish an independent investigative office under the Attorney General to investigate instances where a death is caused by police.
While these bills are a necessary first step, there is still much work to be done to breakdown the systemic racism that exists in our justice system. I will continue working to ensure that every New Yorker is treated with fairness, respect, and humanity. Consider me a partner in this fight to enact progressive change across our state. If I can be of assistance in any way, please reach out to me at 845-623-3627.