New York

On June 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order requiring all of NY's 500 law enforcement agencies to develop their own plan for police reform. Each agency must submit their plan to the Director of the Division of the Budget by April 1, 2021. Agencies without satisfactory plans will not have access to specific state grants.

For this reason, a significant amount of NY's police reform will occur at the local level rather than at the state legislative level.

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated Jan. 20, 2020

Summary

Key:

Legislation Achieved

Some Progress

No Progress

  • Demilitarization

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    No knock warrants
    1033 program
    Military-style training
    SWAT data

    New York a

  • For Profit Policing

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Civil asset forfeiture
    Quotas
    Cost of misconduct

    New York b

  • Broken Windows Policing

    Minor offenses
    Objective justification for stops
    Reporting stop details

    New York c

  • Accountability

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Reckless civil rights violation
    Independent investigation
    Qualified immunity

    New York d

  • Reinvesting in Communities

    Mental health response

    Education, housing, and community health resources

    New York e

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. In 2015, legislators introduced S4354 which would better protects the public from possible individual or systemic abuse of so-called "no-knock" search warrants, while preserving the use of such warrants. The bill died in committee.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.

Pending Legislation: Lawmakers in both houses introduced companion legislation in January 2021 (A.2535/S.1134) to prohibit law enforcement agencies from "participating in the 1033 federal excess property program for the purposes of receiving lethal or offensive weapons."

Military style training

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. Instead, after a grand jury failed to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner, New York City law enforcement officers used LRADs (Long Range Acoustic Devices) on protesters. LRADs emit a noise louder than the threshold for potential hearing loss and can cause headaches, earaches, and permanent hearing damage. They “were developed in response to the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole,” and should not be used on peaceful protesters.

SWAT data

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

Some Progress:

Prosecutors can freeze only those assets that they anchor to the crimes charged. However the law does not require the freeze be enacted after conviction.

Quotas

Some Progress:

Legislation in 2010 expanded the quota penalty provisions to include a ticket, summons or arrest authorized by any general, special or local law made within a specified period of time, and quotas for stops of individuals suspected of criminal activity within a specified period of time. The law also stipulated that law enforcement supervisors could not threaten an employee through a reassignment, scheduling change, poor evaluation, constructive dismissal, denial of a promotion or the denial of overtime.

Pending Legislation: S.1253 designates discrimination against law enforcement officers for failure to meet certain ticket quotas as a class A misdemeanor.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct. In 2018, NYPD paid almost $230 million in settlement claims. S8676, introduced in July 2020, would have required that police officers maintain personal liability for misconduct complaints. This legislation died in committee.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

Some Progress:

In 2019, NYS increased the amount of marijuana you can possess without facing a criminal charge, and reduced fines for low-level marijuana possession. Another part of that law expunges, or clears, the records of those convicted of minor marijuana crimes. However, the state has not decriminalized other non-violent crimes like loitering or jaywalking.

Objective justification for stops

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). Stop and Frisk has nominally decreased, but hasn't been outlawed or banned in any meaningful way. Though the New York State Police are mandated to wear body-worn cameras that are to be used any time an officer conducts a patrol, this does not define any standards of justification.

Pending Legislation: A 2662, introduced in January 2021, prohibits racial profiling during routine or spontaneous investigatory activities.

Reporting stop details

Some Progress:

Reform passed in June 2020 requires that state and local law enforcement officers, as well as peace officers, must report within six hours when they discharge their weapon where a person could have been struck and whether they were on or off duty. Another reform (passed in the same package) requires courts to compile and publish racial and other demographic data of all low-level offenses, including misdemeanors and violations. The bill also requires police departments to submit annual reports on arrest-related deaths to be submitted to the Department of Criminal Justice Services and to the governor and the Legislature.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

Achieved:

As part of the "Say Their Name" package of reforms passed in June 2020, New York State has created a special office of investigation within the state Attorney General's Office. Of note, some worry it would not be independent enough residing in the AG office, or that it could be duplicative with unknown costs.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

No Progress:

New York State has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, New York City announced its plan to launch a pilot in 2021 that would send teams of EMS and mental health professionals to crisis situations in lieu of sending police.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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