A breakthrough has been made, but the fight is not over. The New York Times reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to sign a 10-bill package that will expedite criminal justice and police reform bills on Friday. The decision follows a week of votes by Albany lawmakers amid the fury of George Floyd’s death and protests across the nation.
The bills progressed through New York’s lack of influence for the urgency of change as well as a political gridlock between Democrats and Republicans and opposing powerful police unions.
One of the bills that will be signed into law is named after Eric Garner, the Staten Island New Yorker who was killed at the hands of police in 2014, it will ban the use of police chokeholds. Garner’s case mirrors George Floyd’s considering they both told police “I can’t breathe” and helped to turn the phrase into a national symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement.
New York’s civil rights law 50-a was created to help protect police, firefighters and corrections officers and their families amid criminal investigations, but due to its vague details it has been used outside the scope of confidentiality, many individuals and reporters have been denied requests that were not covered under law 50-a.
The 10-bill package will allow all records to fall under the Freedom of Information laws, personal information such as home addresses and emails will remain confidential.
Among others, the bundle of bills will also immediately enforce the requirement that state police wear body cameras; a bill that will penalize those who make false or hate-based crimes; and a bill that will require police to provide emergency medical attention to suspects in custody.
This is a step towards ending systematic police brutality. However, the need for people to “reform” their way of thinking is an individual matter that is beyond the government’s control.