In May, just days after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, Lieutenant Bob Kroll, the bellicose leader of the city’s police union, described Floyd as a violent criminal, said that the protesters who had gathered to lament his death were terrorists, and complained that they weren’t being treated more roughly by police. Kroll, who has spoken unsentimentally about being involved in three shootings himself, said that he was fighting to get the accused officers reinstated. In the following days, the Kentucky police union rallied around officers who had fatally shot an E.M.T.
Safer New York Act
ABOUT THE LEGISLATION
The Safer NY Act is a package of bills in the New York State Legislature that would help increase police transparency and help increase accountability to New Yorkers' most common encounters with police. The #SaferNYAct includes the Police Statistics and Transparency (STAT) Act, codifying and strengthening the Special Prosecutor executive order, reducing Unnecessary Arrests for low-level, ticketable offenses, repealing the NYS police secrecy law (CRL section 50-a), and legalizing marijuana with strong attention paid to ensuring that resources are reinvested in communities most harmed by prohibition.
LEGISLATION INCLUDED IN THE SAFER NY ACT
The following is a summary of the legislation included in the Safer New York Act:
End Police Secrecy - Repeal 50-a (A2513-O’Donnell/S3695-Bailey) - PASSED
New York is arguably the worst in the nation in terms of hiding police misconduct and discipline due to the application and expansion of 50-a in recent years. 50-a is a NYS statute that carves out unnecessary & harmful secrecy for police, fire, and corrections. 50-a is routinely used to shield police misconduct and failed police disciplinary processes from public view. A repeal of 50-a would provide much-needed transparency on police misconduct and discipline in New York State, and help address the systemic lack of accountability for officers who engage in misconduct. Other existing FOIL statutes will continue to protect private information about officers (like their home address) once 50-a is repealed.
Police Statistics & Transparency (STAT) Act (A05472-Lentol/S1830–Hoylman) - PASSED
This legislation would require police departments across the state to record & report demographic and geographic data on enforcement of low-level offenses (including violations and misdemeanors) to improve the transparency of policing activities across the state. This bill also requires comprehensive public reporting of deaths in police custody. The common-sense provisions of the Police STAT Act were part of recommendations issued by former President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Special Prosecutor Legislation to strengthen and codify Executive Order 147 (A1601-Perry/S2574-Bailey) - PASSED
This legislation authorizes the Attorney General’s office with jurisdiction in all cases of police killings and deaths in police custody, strengthening and memorializing EO147. The bill, if enacted, would help to ensure fair and thorough investigations and – when warranted – effective prosecutions in tragic incidents that the criminal justice system has historically failed to address.
End Marijuana Prohibition and Invest in Communities - Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act (A1617-Peoples-Stokes/S1527 –Krueger)
The MRTA will legalize marijuana & remove it from consideration under the Controlled Substances Act. This bill will authorize the personal use and cultivation of marijuana. The enforcement of marijuana prohibition has been used to target and criminalize communities of color in New York State. The MRTA will help address the discriminatory enforcement or marijuana prohibition statutes and will ensure that there is reinvestment in the communities most impacted by the war on drugs.
Reduce unnecessary arrests for non-criminal offenses (A4053-Aubry/S2571-Bailey)
This legislation will help end harmful and needless arrests for violations, which are minor, non-criminal, ticketable offenses. Arrests for violations disproportionately impact communities of color, carry significant social & public costs to taxpayers, and can jeopardize employment opportunities, immigration status, and access to health, housing, and other programs for those subjected to these unnecessary arrests. By making the law enforcement action commensurate with the offense, this legislation can help reduce financial resources spent on minor infractions, and increase resources available for meaningful safety measures for all New Yorkers.