NEW YORK – Lawmakers in New York voted on Tuesday to repeal a decades-old law that protects police officers’ disciplinary records from the public.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that he will sign the law this week amid nationwide protests against police brutality.
The bill is part of a package of police reform measures passed this week by the Democratically Controlled Assembly and Senate in Albany when protests gripped the nation after the death of George Floyd, a black man, while a white police officer from Minneapolis knelt on his neck.
Monday, the legislator voted to ban the use of chokeholds by the police. The practice was heavily condemned when an African American man, Eric Garner, died after a white New York City police officer strangled him during a 2014 arrest.
Police advocates have long pushed for the repeal of the controversial section of New York’s Civil Rights Law, 50-a, which prevented the disclosure of police officers’ disciplinary information.
“The legislation to be passed in the coming days will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that cruelty, racism and unjustified killings will not be tolerated,” said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, leader of the New York Senate. statement.
Police unions in New York call the legislation an attack on the police.
“The message has been very clearly sent by our elected officials to the police officers: we don’t like you,” Richard Wells, president of the state’s union, the Police Conference of New York, told reporters. “We don’t respect you. We won’t support you. We want you to leave.”
He said the withdrawal of 50-a criminal defense attorneys would allow citing old complaints against an officer in court to undermine the officer’s testimony.
The New York City Council also considered a bill to criminalize the use of chokeholds, which enjoys widespread support among legislators, but in its current form is opposed by the mayor.