New Laws Will Help Promote Accountability and Improve Transparency in Law Enforcement
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation requiring all New York State Police officers to wear body cameras while on patrol (S.8493/A.8674); and creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (S.3595-C/A.10002).
"The relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve isn't working," Governor Cuomo said. "New York is the progressive capital of the nation, and we are leading the way by enacting real reforms to increase transparency in policing, promote accountability among our law enforcement agencies and ultimately mend that frayed relationship between the police and the community."
Requiring Use of Body Cameras (S.8493/A.8674)
This new law requires all New York State Police patrol officers to use body-worn cameras while on patrol to record immediately before an officer exits a patrol vehicle to interact with a person or situation; all uses of force; all arrests and summonses; all interactions with individuals suspected of criminal activity; all searches of persons and property; any call to a crime in progress; investigative actions involving interactions with members of the public; any interaction with an emotionally disturbed person; and any instances where an officer feels any imminent danger or the need to document their time on duty. The law also requires law enforcement to keep video records of all these interactions.
Senator Kevin Parker said, "Too often injustices go unseen and police officers feel emboldened to act as judge & jury. Body cameras will diminish the trust deficit between the police and communities they serve. Thank you to the Governor for signing this critical legislation into law."
Assembly Member Latrice Walker said, "As one of the largest state police agencies in the country, the New York State Police should be one of the first agencies to set an example, to show others how to properly use body cams to deliver transparency and accountability to the public. This legislation will help bring to light when excessive force is used, and hopefully ultimately reduce the number of "use of force" incidents and take a critical first step in repairing the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."
Creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (S.3595-C/A.10002)
This new law establishes the independent Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office within the Department of Law to review, study, audit and make recommendations to police agencies in the State with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement; increasing public safety; protecting civil liberties and civil rights; ensuring compliance with constitutional protections and local, state and federal laws; and increasing the public's confidence in law enforcement. The Office will also handle misconduct complaints statewide about any local law enforcement agencies. Unlike the Special Prosecutor, which is triggered only upon a law enforcement related death, this will allow for an independent review of complaints of misconduct for any local law enforcement agency. For state police agencies, the State Inspector General and the MTA Inspector General and Port Authority Inspector General have their jurisdiction expanded to receive complaints of law enforcement misconduct.
Senator Kevin Parker said, "It's way past time that New York ensured consistent oversight of local law enforcement across the state. The law enforcement misconduct investigative office will improve policies, practices and procedures by providing extra independent scrutiny to detect when our local police may be failing to address individual wrongdoing or systemic problems. I hope, when full functional, it will be a preventive measure to the misconduct that plagues our police departments and restores the confidence of our communities. Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this important legislation into law."
Assembly Member Al Taylor said, "Years of police misconduct and excessive, oftentimes lethal, force in Black and Brown communities show that up till now the tools we used to address this issue within law enforcement agencies have been woefully inadequate. After the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others, America came out to say enough is enough and demand real change. Establishing the law enforcement misconduct investigative office within the state attorney general's office will require police misconduct investigations to be led by an independent, impartial body rather than by local prosecutors. This shift will bring much needed transparency and accountability to law enforcement agencies throughout New York, creating a safer and more just system for all of us. Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and helping New York lead the way in tackling the inequities of our criminal justice system."