New York City City Council passed a series of reforms to the New York Police Department on Thursday, including the disbandment of qualified officers, who defended them in civil courts.
The legal package includes five bills and three decisions that provide more vigilance and require more transparency in the department. The city council also adopted a police reform program mandated by the New York State executive council.
This includes allowing the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to investigate police with a history of bias and complaints of racism, as well as giving the board final authority on police disciplinary recommendations. Earlier, the police commissioner had the right to disregard the recommendations, which was a matter of concern during an internal review of Officer Daniel Pantaleo regarding the death of Eric Garner.
But one of the most powerful steps the council has taken is to remove the proper immune system. The term refers to a legal framework that protects government officials from allegations of human rights abuses - a topic that has been widely debated throughout the country. By building a new local legal right by law, New York City citizens will be protected from unwanted intruders and extermination with great force, and prevent officials from using appropriate antibodies as protection.
Other laws passed include approving quarterly reports at all traffic stops, the Department of Transport is investigating all accidents involving serious injuries and requires new officials to stay within city lines. Media transfers to the media will now be issued through the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment instead of the NYPD.
The set of rules was based on a "month-long engagement process" with the New York City Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which worked in partnership with stakeholders, experts and the community, said Mayor Bill de Blasio's office.
"We believe that the plan approved today by the City Council reflects the implications of reforms that focus on eliminating policing, the criminalization of poverty, and the lack of transparency and accountability in the NYPD," a statement from the NYPD said. Collaborative Participants Jennifer Jones Austin, Wes Moore, and Arva Rice said. "We know there is still a lot to be done. Now work is underway to implement this plan without delay, and to ensure that the City's budget is fully aligned."
De Blasio also praised the law and thanked donors and other city leaders for their efforts.
"These changes will address centuries of extreme discrimination in black communities and strengthen relations between the police and the community," de Blasio said. "Together, we will make our city safer and do better for future generations."
De Blasio's office said all plans would be launched, some fully implemented, by 2021. The city will also launch a commitment campaign on May 1 to monitor their progress, they said.
Reactions of police and activists
In a statement sent to CNN, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea expressed concern about the law, particularly noting his inability to have one final word on the discipline.
"At the moment the Commission is hiring, training, asking them to take the risk of keeping New Yorkers safe and if the police break the rules, I order them and if necessary remove them," Shea said. "If I do that in the right way, I defend myself. The buck stands here. To remove that from the Commission, ask yourself who is responsible there?"
"There is no other city agency that uses this program or the FBI, the Secret Service, or the Marines. There is a reason for that. You need to know where the buck stands," he continued.
A federation of several New York City police unions has been circulating buildings around the city on Thursday in protest of the law.
The New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA), representing nearly 24,000 police officers, was one of the leaders in a major opposition to the reform movement.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch issued a scathing statement in response to the law.
"New Yorkers were being shot and police were on the streets, all day and all night, trying to stop the bloodshed," Lynch said. "Where are these City Council members? They are safe at home, hiding behind their screens and dreaming of new ways to give criminals a chance to pass for free. It would not be right unless the people of New York humiliated politicians to do their job."
The Legal Aid Society, which plays a key role in the management of the NYPD, also opposed the law, saying that the changes did not take into account the public's desire to invest in non-police services.
"Mayor de Blasio has had a real opportunity to implement the urgently needed changes in the police force," said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in Charge of Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. "He failed to do that and instead produced a program that clearly articulated the problems of programs within the NYPD that plagued the New York people we serve."