New York Senate Passes New Police Reform Legislation

All ten of the bills passed by the Senate have now been signed by the governor

We are at a moment of reckoning in this country.  And I am so glad that I am in this historic role as the leader of 40 Democrats who rose to the occasion in this historic moment. What we are doing today is not a cure, but it is a first step towards acknowledging that while laws alone cannot fix racism in America, they can begin to root out injustice. And that gives me hope.”

Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins

So said the NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at the bill signing last week of the historic police reform legislation passed by the senate and made into law.

Governor Cuomo has signed the complete package of 10 legislative bills passed jointly by the senate and assembly. These are:

  • The repeal of the now famous 50A of the Civil Rights Law, which kept a police officer’s disciplinary records shielded from the public, is a cornerstone of the new law which calls for transparency.
  • Also signed is   Senate Bill 2574B: which creates an Office of Special Investigation, under the Attorney General, which will investigate, and, if warranted, prosecute any incident of a person whose death was caused by a police officer or peace officer.
  • Senate Bill 3253B: clarifies that a person not under arrest or in custody has the right to record police activity and to maintain custody and control of that recording, and of any property or instruments used to record police activities.
  • Senate Bill 6670B: the “Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act,” prohibits the use of chokeholds by law enforcement and establishes the crime of aggravated strangulation as a Class-C felony.
  • Senate Bill 1830C:, the Police Statistics and Transparency (STAT) Act, 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.
  • Senate Bill 8492: also known as false reporting as when a person summons a police or peace officer on someone without reason to suspect a crime or an imminent threat to person or property.
  • Senate Bill 6601A: amends the Civil Rights Law by adding a new section that affirms New Yorkers’ right to medical and mental health attention while in custody.
  • Senate Bill 2575B: requires state and local law enforcement officers, as well as peace officers, to report, within six hours, when they discharge their weapon where a person could have been struck, whether they were on or off duty.
  • Senate Bill S.3595B: This establishes the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office within the Department of Law to review, study, audit and make recommendations regarding operations, policies, programs and practices of local law enforcement agencies to increase public safety and protect civil liberties.
  • Senate Bill S.8493: This legislation, the New York State Police Body-Worn Cameras Program, directs the Division of State Police to provide all state police officers with body-worn cameras that are to be used any time an officer conducts a patrol and prescribes mandated situations when the camera is to be turned on and recording.

In her remarks at the signing, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins thanked Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie and especially her senate colleagues who sponsored the bills.

“I would have thought that this reckoning would have come sooner”, said Senator Stewart- Cousins. “There were moments that I felt we were close. I remember in 1999 hearing Bruce Springsteen’s song ‘American Skin (41 shots)’ — a song about the killing of an unarmed black man. Amadou Diallo. It goes—‘It ain’t no secret, no secret my friend, you can get killed just for living in your American Skin’.

“Those words have stuck with me; because as a mother and grandmother of black children I have lived with this worry. And every mother and grandmother that looks like me shares this worry.

But now I have hope.”


  1. Senator Cousins,
    Qualified Immunity is a provision invented by the Supreme Court in1967 to protect police from litigation during the Civil Rights Movement. It protected cops from liability for brutality and killing of protesters. Qualified Immunity is still used for that purpose today.

    How can this huge and overwhelming racist provision be left untouched. I question the sincerety of any police reform efforts that doesn’t include abolishing a deadly racist policy: Qualified Immunity for police. It can begin with Govener Cuomo.

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