New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on Friday a sweeping package of police accountability measures, including one allowing the release of officers’ long-withheld disciplinary records, that received new backing following protests over George Floyd’s killing.
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.
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“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 Reverend 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.
“It was a long time coming, but it came,” Carr 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.
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) June 12, 2020
Some bills, including body camera legislation, drew support from Republicans, who opposed legislation that repealed a state law long used to block the release of police disciplinary records over concerns about officers’ privacy.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 utilise it in a manner that ensures greater transparency and fairness”.
Minneapolis Police officers stand in a line while facing protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Police Precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Kerem Yucel/AFP]
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 that fail to do so will not receive state aid.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, New York City’s largest police union, said in a news release that Cuomo and the legislative leaders “have no business celebrating today”.
Lynch said police officers spend their days addressing the “failures” of elected officials. “Now, we won’t even be able to do that,” he said. “We will be permanently frozen, stripped of all resources and unable to do the job.”
#BREAKING: I am signing into law nation-leading criminal justice & police reform bills — including legislation that ends 50-A & bans chokeholds.Thank you to @AndreaSCousins, @CarlHeastie & the Legislature for your partnership and fast action.This is a historic moment for NY.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 12, 2020
Cuomo has 10 days to act on other bills passed by state lawmakers this week, including legislation prohibiting police from using racial profiling and another bill ensuring that individuals under arrest or in police custody receive attention for medical and mental health needs.
Lawmakers also passed a bill to require New York to collect and report the race and other demographic details of individuals who are charged. The legislation says police departments must “promptly report” to the state the death of any people who die in police custody and in an attempt to establish custody, and provide a demographic breakdown.
Cuomo: economy won’t recover on its own, companies won’t rehire some workers
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the US economy won’t recover on its own because “too many small businesses have closed” and corporations won’t rehire as many workers as they laid off.
- “They had fewer workers and used more technology and they’re going to decide: ‘Well, we don’t need as many workers,'” he said during a press conference Sunday.
- Cuomo said the government will need to play a role in stimulating a post-pandemic economy by working with the private sector and investing in infrastructure projects, education, and telemedicine.
- During the week ending May 16, 2.4 million Americans filed for unemployment, bringing the 9-week total to nearly 39 million, as the coronavirus continues to devastate the US economy.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the US economy won’t bounce back to pre-pandemic levels on its own because corporations won’t rehire workers they laid off and small businesses have been hit hard.
“I don’t believe this economy just bounces back,” Cuomo said. “Too many small businesses have closed, you’ll see many of these corporations are going to use this as an opportunity to lay off workers.”
Cuomo predicted that companies won’t rehire all of the employees they fire or furlough as a result of the coronavirus.
“Many businesses will have gone through this period where workers were at home. They had fewer workers and used more technology and they’re going to decide: ‘Well, we don’t need as many workers,'” he said.
Economic fallout from the coronavirus has been swift, devastating businesses across virtually every sector of the economy, and companies have laid off a record number of employees.
Jobless claims in the US for the week that ended May 16 reached 2.4 million, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 39 million. More claims have been filed in the past nine weeks than were filed during the entire Great Recession, which lasted 18 months, according to the US Labor Department and Federal Reserve Economic Data.
Cuomo said the economy will look different moving forward than it did pre-pandemic due to technology automating some jobs away and people continuing to work remotely, and that government will need to “play a role” in reviving it.
“It’s going to be about government working with the private sector, working with businesses to jumpstart the economy to stimulate it, to get some big projects going that gets the business sector engaged and confident and believing once again,” he said.
Cuomo said improving or building new airports, mass transit systems, and roads and bridges as well as investing in education technology and telemedicine services are ways New York is hoping to accomplish that.
The governor has tasked several billionaires in recent weeks with advising him on how to make those investments moving forward. Earlier in May, Cuomo tapped former Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt to chair a commission aimed at “reimagining” the state’s relationship with technology.
He has also recruited philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to help design a plan to reopen the state’s public schools this fall and convinced former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to spend $10 million of his own fortune to work with Johns Hopkins University on developing a contact tracing program for the tri-state area.
Cuomo said New York is “decidedly in the reopening phase” for now, but that the next phase, “which we’re going to begin preparing for soon, is rebuilding and recreating the economy.”
States and the federal government have already put trillions of dollars collectively toward emergency coronavirus relief, including a $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in March. Democrats in the House have approved an additional $3 trillion bailout, though it is unlikely to be backed by Senate Republicans, who have expressed disapproval of the bill.
Cuomo criticized the March stimulus bill, saying not enough funding would go to New York, which has been hit hardest by the virus, The New York Times reported last month. An analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that New York could receive as little as $23,000 per COVID-19 case, while smaller states like Alaska could get as much as $3.4 million per case.
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