Historic Police Reforms Become Law in New York State
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Friday, June 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a series of police reforms passed earlier in the week by the state legislature. This is transformative and historic.
These reforms included a repeal of a measure that shielded police disciplinary records from public review, which 16 members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators had urged passage of in a letter to our state legislative delegation.
The "Say Their Name" Reform Agenda package was passed following the killing of George Floyd and an ongoing pattern of police brutality against minority communities across the nation. These landmark policing reforms will help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine the state's criminal justice system. The reforms include:
Allowing for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by repealing 50-a of the civil rights law;
Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers;
Prohibiting false race-based 911 reports; and
Designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the civilian deaths.
In addition, on June 12, the Governor signed an Executive Order requiring local police agencies to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input. Each police agency's reform plan must address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including, but not limited to use of force.
Police forces must adopt a plan by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future state funding and certify that they have:
Engaged stakeholders in a public and open process on policing strategies and tools;
Presented a plan, by chief executive and head of the local police force, to the public for comment;
After consideration of any comments, presented such plan to the local legislative body (council or legislature as appropriate) which has approved such plan (by either local law or resolution); and
If such local government does not certify the plan, the police force may not be eligible to receive future state funding.
These welcome reforms are overdue and we look forward at the County Board of Legislators to doing our part to implement them and continue to work further to ensure that policing in Westchester is fair and equitable.
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