New York AG presents legislation aimed to change use-of-force standards for police

The state attorney general says under the current law, police officers' justification for deadly force is overly broad, and that New York's laws set an "exceedingly high" standard. She says a "simple suspicion" of a crime does not justify deadly force.

News 12 Staff

May 21, 2021, 5:04 PM

Updated 1,121 days ago

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New York Attorney General Letitia James has proposed "robust" reforms to police use-of-force laws, with aims to change the standard of when deadly force should be used.
James says the legislation will strengthen prosecutors' abilities in an attempt to hold police officers accountable for unjustified and excessive use of force.
The state attorney general says under the current law, police officers' justification for deadly force is overly broad, and that New York's laws set an "exceedingly high" standard. She says a "simple suspicion" of a crime does not justify deadly force.
She says that lethal force should only be used as a last resort, instead of one of "simple necessity." She referenced similar standards introduced in other states, including New Jersey.
James noted that police officers are and should be afforded certain protections, but that this is aimed at curbing force that is "grossly excessive."
"In New York, our laws have essentially given police blanket defense to use force in interactions with the public, making it exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to go after officers who have abused this power," says James.
The bill would introduce penalties when an officer is found to have used unnecessary force.
James called the bill the most far-reaching use-of-force reform in the country.
"Not all cops are bad. We've got more good cops than we have bad cops. But we definitely need to weed out the bad cops," says James.
James referenced the conviction of Derek Chauvin as an "exception" in excessive force cases, and was joined by Eric Garner's mother Gwen Carr in support of the bill.
The Suffolk PBA issued a statement saying, "This sweeping proposal would make it impossible for police officers to determine whether or not we are permitted to use force in a given situation. The only reasonable solution will be to avoid confrontations where force might become necessary. Meanwhile, violent criminals certainly aren't hesitating to use force against police officers or our communities. The bottom line: more cops and more regular New Yorkers are going to get hurt."  


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