Protests broke out across the nation in the wake of the death of unarmed black man George Floyd while in police custody. The main focus of the protests has been punishment for the officers involved in Floyd's death and significant police reform, which many states have started to adopt.
The statement, which can be read in full here, criticizes the legislature’s rush to consider and possibly adopt measures that agencies warn will result in “unintended outcomes” and “severe and lasting damage to the public interest.”
“As law enforcement professionals, we share the universal desire for healing and positive change. At this time, however, the first priority of government must be to restore peace and stability,” the memo reads. “No rational policy discussion can take place against a backdrop of burning police vehicles and looted store fronts.”
Unions highlight three points: the flawed process by which laws might pass without law enforcement input, the effect on morale and support among the officers on the streets, and the repeal or reform of Civil Rights Law §50-A.
The statement was circulated among the unions this morning, just hours ahead of Governor Andrew Cuomo asking for support for the Say Their Names bill, which counts as one of its four cornerstones the repeal of Civil Rights Law §50-A.
The law provides protection for officers, allowing them to refuse disclosure of “personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion.” The unions are concerned that without the law, officers will be left vulnerable after the public sees cases that “have not been fully investigated and substantiated and where the law enforcement officer has had a chance to be heard.”
Signatories include the Police Benevolent Association of the City of NY, the Detectives’ Endowment Association, NYC Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, The Police Conference of NY, NYS Association of PBAs and the Police Benevolent Association of NYS. In total, the groups represent some 160,000 active and retired officers.
The unions further point to a controversial bail reform law that the state passed last year without law enforcement input -- a law that has allowed many of the looters and rioters that Cuomo complains about to be released after processing.
“For these reasons, we urge the Senate and the Assembly to establish an open and deliberative process in which all of the parties impacted by the bills being considered for next week can participate and provide their perspectives, concerns and expertise,” the statement concludes.
“Any process short of that modest threshold will result in legislation that is ill-conceived, unfair, and destined to diminish public safety and the public’s confidence in the legislative process.”
The memo was circulated among the unions this morning, and other agencies are still able to sign, with those who have yet to do so expected to add their support in the coming days.