Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) announced that he helped pass a comprehensive legislative package of police reforms to provide greater accountability and transparency in law enforcement. These bills heed the call from thousands of New Yorkers protesting against police brutality and racism, as well as hold law enforcement officers responsible for their actions.
Every New Yorker should feel safe in their community and trust that those who are empowered to protect and serve will treat them fairly and justly, Aubry said. But we cant deny the disturbing reality that history has shown us time and time again. Far too many of our brothers and sisters in black and brown communities have lost their lives at the hands of bad cops. The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are yet another tragic and inexcusable chapter in the long history of racism in our nation. While we cant bring them back, we can ensure justice is served. Racism has no place in our great state, which is why my colleagues and I passed measures that help us begin to rebuild trust between communities and those who are sworn to protect them.
Aubry co-sponsored a critical measure that creates a new felony crime of aggravated strangulation when a law enforcement officer uses a chokehold or similar restraint against a person and causes serious physical injury or death (A.6144-B). The phrase I cant breathe became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement after Eric Garner and George Floyd lost their lives to officers who ignored their pleas. Any person murdered or injured by such means deserves to have their perpetrator face serious criminal penalties, noted Aubry.
Another critical bill that Aubry co-sponsored repeals section 50-a of the state Civil Rights Law and creates an avenue for the public to access police disciplinary records in compliance with the states existing Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) protections (A.10611). Greater transparency will help shine a light on injustices in the criminal justice system and ensure officers relevant disciplinary history are available to press and the public, noted Aubry.
Additional legislation that Aubry helped pass included measures to:
- affirm a persons right, unless theyre under arrest or in custody, to record law enforcement activity and maintain custody of the recording (A.1360-A);
- provide body-worn cameras to all state police while on patrol and stipulate when a body camera must be used, preservation of body camera footage and maintenance of cameras (A.8674-A);
- require any law enforcement officer or peace officer who discharges a firearm to verbally report the firing of the gun to a police supervisor within six hours and provide a written report within 48 hours (A.10608);
- establish a civil right of action for individuals under the Civil Rights Law when a person calls 911 or otherwise summons a police officer when there is no reason to believe a crime is occurring and is motivated by bias (A.1531-B)
- require courts to maintain and report records concerning arrests and court proceedings involving low-level offenses such as violations and traffic offenses, including aggregate and anonymized demographic information such as race, ethnicity and sex (A.10609);
- require police officers or peace officers provide attention to the medical needs of a person in custody and that a person under arrest or in jail or prison receive prompt medical care (A.8226-B);
- establish an Office of Special Investigation within the Attorney Generals Office to investigate and prosecute incidents involving the death of a person caused by the act or omission of a police officer or certain peace officers (A.1601-C);
- enact a statewide ban on racial and ethnic profiling by police and law enforcement agencies (A.4615-A); and
- establish the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office within the Department of Law headed by the Deputy Attorney General to receive and investigate complaints from any source or upon their own initiative concerning allegations of corruption, fraud, use of excessive force, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse in a local law enforcement agency (A.10002-B).