New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo has officially signed police reform legislation into law, consisting of 10 reform bills in the wake of the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd.
The measures were approved earlier this week by the state’s Democratic-led Legislature. Some of the bills had been proposed in years past and failed to win approval, but lawmakers moved with new urgency in the wake of massive, nationwide demonstrations over Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
“Police reform is long overdue, and Mr. Floyd’s murder is only the most recent murder,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said.
Cuomo was joined at the signing ceremony by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell, who was killed by an officer in 2006, and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was killed by police in New York in 2014.
I just signed into law nation-leading legislation that:
-Prohibits false race-based 911 calls
-Makes Attorney General the independent prosecutor in killings of unarmed civilians by police
There is more to do & NY will lead the way. pic.twitter.com/i4MUKe37IY
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 12, 2020
“It was a long time coming, but it came,” Carr said.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins thanks Carr and Bell “for being brave and strong.”
“We are at a moment of reckoning. There is no doubt about it,” she said.
The laws will ban police chokeholds, make it easier to sue people who call police on others without good reason, and set up a special prosecutor’s office to investigate the deaths of people during and following encounters with police officers.
“These bills mean some substantive change, so that we won’t be sitting here going over this after the next funeral and after the next situation,” Sharpton said.
Some bills, including body camera legislation, drew support from Republicans, who opposed legislation that repealed a state law long used to block the release of police disciplinary records over concerns about officers’ privacy.
Eliminating the law, known as Section 50-a, would make complaints against officers, as well as transcripts and final dispositions of disciplinary proceedings, public for the first time in decades.
New York Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Jessica McRorie said the department “will review the final version of the legislation and utilize it in a manner that ensures greater transparency and fairness.”
The state’s approximately 500 police departments will all have to come up with plans to address everything from use of force to implicit bias awareness training by next April under an executive order that Cuomo said he will issue Friday.
The governor said New York is the first to come up with such a plan and warned that police departments who fail to do so will not receive state aid.