Attorney General James Announces Robust Reforms to Police Use of Force Laws

The Law on Police Accountability increases the accountability of police officers
by amending the New York City Law to Justify the Use of Force by Police

The legislation also provides criminal sanctions for officials who use excessive force

NEW YORK – New York attorney general Letitia James today announced laws amending New York state laws regulating police violence to strengthen the prosecution’s ability to hold police officers accountable for unjustified and excessive use of force. The Police Accountability Act – the most far-reaching reform of the use of force in the nation – seeks to change New York law that justifies the use of force by police and currently sets an extraordinarily high standard for prosecuting police officers who are abusively fatal or excessive Used violence. At the heart of the legislation is to change the application of the law on violence from a simple necessity to one of the very last, requiring that police officers only use force after all other alternatives have been exhausted. The legislation will also provide for new criminal penalties for police officers who use violence beyond what is warranted in dealing with civilians.

“For too long, police officers in this country have been able to evade accountability for the unjustified use of excessive and deadly force,” he said Attorney General James. “In New York, our laws have essentially given the police the blanket defense to use violence in their dealings with the public, making it extremely difficult for prosecutors to prosecute officials who have abused that power. Not only is this extremely unfair, but it has also proven incredibly dangerous. The Police Accountability Act will make critical and necessary changes to the law, setting clear and legitimate standards for when the use of force is acceptable, and real ramifications if an officer crosses that line. While this is an important step in addressing the shortcomings in our criminal justice system, it is not a panacea for the diseases that have affected too many families and claimed too many lives. We must continue to do everything in our power to protect our communities and ensure that no one is out of the reach of justice. “

Overview of the Police Accountability Act

The Police Accountability Act (p.6615) contains a number of reforms to improve protocols and strengthen accountability when police officers use force, particularly lethal force. These legislative reforms aim to reduce police deaths by ensuring that police officers adhere to life-saving practices and tactics using lethal force only as a last resort, and by providing prosecutors with appropriate tools To Possible Hold Officers To Account If A Person Dies After Interacting With The Police.

1) Use of force must be a last resort

Current Law: Under current New York law, officials are not required to exhaust other options, such as de-escalation, verbal warnings, or the use of lower-level violence, before using violence, including deadly violence.

Police Accountability Act Reform: The Police Accountability Act seeks to change that law by establishing a “last resort” standard that requires the use of force to be a last resort that officials can only use when there is none sensible alternatives to avoid or reduce violence are used. Officials must instead seek alternatives, including de-escalation, less violence, verbal warnings, and other methods.

2) A simple suspicion of criminal behavior cannot justify deadly violence

Current Law: Current New York Use of Force Act empowers the police to use lethal force based solely on an officer ‘s reasoned belief that a person has committed a specific crime – a specific category of crime or attempted crime to commit – and regardless of whether the person is present a danger to the officer or another person at the time.

Police Accountability Act Reform: The Police Accountability Act seeks to remove the justification for fatal violence when an officer only suspects that a person has committed certain criminal behavior. Lethal force should only be used in the most difficult of circumstances and requires higher standards of evidence before an officer can use lethal force.

3) Allow prosecutors to assess whether police behavior has led to the need for force

Current Law: Current New York law justifying the use of force by the police does not provide a mechanism for prosecutors to even consider an officer’s responsibility for creating the need for force.

Reform of the Law on Police Accountability: The Law on Police Accountability is specifically designed to allow prosecutors to examine whether the conduct of an officer poses a significant and unjustifiable risk that violence becomes necessary. In this case, an officer cannot go to the defense of justification.

4) Establishing standards and criminal penalties to prevent excessive use of police forces

The Police Accountability Act – sponsored by Senate Senator Kevin Parker and Congregation member N. Nick Perry sponsored – aims to impose criminal penalties on police officers who use violence well beyond what is justified by the law is circumstances and where that force causes personal injury or death. The amount of charge depends on the severity of the injuries caused.

“Our legal system makes it far too difficult to achieve fairness about police violence,” he said Deputy Senate Chairman Michael Gianaris. “This legislative proposal will provide the tools necessary to hold the wrongdoers accountable and bring us closer to justice. I thank Attorney General James for her efforts in this important area and look forward to working with her to make this happen. “

“Right now, ‘excessive use of force’ is a poetry term in New York State. This important piece of legislation corrects that and defines it in law, ”he said State Senator Kevin Parker. “This creates a reasonable expectation for both law enforcement and the people of our great state. Thank you to the Attorney General for your guidance on this important matter. ”

“Police officers’ use of excessive force has not only affected loved ones and family members, but is a constant scourge for our communities,” he said State Senator Jamaal Bailey. “The Police Accountability Act makes it clear that New York State will not tolerate law enforcement officials who deviate from the mission of protection and service and instead seek to falsely take justice into their own hands. Accountability and consequences are required to minimize the occurrence of unjustified violence. By setting explicit standards and expectations for civil servants in connection with criminal sanctions, a system is created in which justice is fair and accountability can be assumed. Techniques such as de-escalation have been shown to work and should be highlighted as necessary and commonly used tools. In many cases the use of force can be substituted. The Police Accountability Act is a landmark set of reforms designed to address the shortcomings in our current criminal justice system and protect many communities. I would like to thank New York Attorney General Letitia James for her dedication and continued work to ensure that justice is fair and just for all New Yorkers. “

“Today we’re answering the call from the people in New York state who spoke loudly and clearly,” he said Congregation member Nick Perry. “I am proud to sponsor the Police Accountability Act in the New York Congregation to reform the use of violent laws by police in New York State. I do this on behalf of all those men and women who have been removed from their families and loved ones far too early because the police have used unjustified and excessive force. The first shoot mentality has to end whether you wear a badge or not. This act will save lives and make the use of deadly force an absolute last resort. ”

“Misconduct and abuse of power are culturally embedded in our police force and we must work together to end it,” he said Assembly member Catalina Cruz. “The unjustified and excessive use of force and a lack of accountability destroy the relationship between the police and the communities they are supposed to serve. These critical initiatives will change that. I would like to thank the Attorney General for her courageous and forward-looking leadership, and I am proud to serve as a supporter and ally in the struggle to strengthen and protect our communities. “

“There is no question that our criminal justice system needs drastic reforms,” ​​he said Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. “For far too long police officers have gotten away with putting people’s lives in danger without facing any kind of consequences. Not only is this unfair, it is deeply painful for those of us who have lost family members to police violence. I commend Attorney General James for taking these courageous and necessary steps to reform New York law and ensure we have more tools to hold officials accountable for using unnecessary lethal force. “

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