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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed an extensive legislative package that aims to prevent police misconduct and hold New York officers more accountable.
The measures, which were approved by the state’s legislature earlier this week, included a ban on police chokeholds as well as a repeal of statute 50-a, a decades-old law that kept officer's disciplinary records hidden from public view.
"There’s no trust and if there is no trust, the relationship doesn’t work," the governor said during Friday's signing, as reported by the Daily News. "If there’s no trust, the police can’t effectively police. If there’s no trust, the community is not going to allow the police to police ... There is no trust or there is a breach of the trust and that has to be restored."
Some of the measures in the package were proposed years ago, but failed to get approved, as many Republicans and law enforcement unions deemed them "anti-police." Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, criticized Friday's signing, claiming the measures would get in the way of officers' duties.
"Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders have no business celebrating today," he said. "New York state had been failing our communities for decades: failing to provide economic opportunity, failing to educate our youth, failing to care for the vulnerable and the mentally ill ... Police officers spend our days addressing issues caused by these failures. Now, we won’t even be able to do that."
The new laws, which went into effect immediately after signing, come amid nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. The demonstrations were spurred by the police killing of police brutality victims, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and have led several lawmakers to support comprehensive police reform.
"The truth is this: Police reform is long overdue, and Mr. Floyd's murder is just the most recent murder," Cuomo said. "It’s about being here before — many, many times before."
Cuomo also announced an executive order that requires all New York police departments to develop a plan to combat systemic racism. Local governments that failed to create a plan by April 2021 would face defunding.
"We’re not going to be as a state government subsidizing improper police tactics. We’re not doing it," he said. "And this is how we’re going to do it."