New York Attorney General Letitia James is pushing for new legislation in New York that will help cut down on instances of police brutality. The Police Accountability Act is in the state Senate committee.
James announced the legislation on May 21, 2021. It is slowly moving through the process of becoming law. If it does pass and end up on the governor’s desk, James promises it will help increase police accountability.
The main goal of the act is to reform policing in the state. It would set limits for use of force and clarify situations in which officers could use a firearm. It also opens the door for prosecutors to more easily go after officers misusing their power to intimidate citizens.
Use of force
The act requires officers to try all other means to deescalate a situation before they can use force. They also must have evidence of a felony criminal act to use lethal force.
In addition to making it easier for prosecutors to hold officers accountable for the misuse of force, the act introduced new standards and penalties. Criminal penalties will be on the table for officers found guilty of violating policies. The penalty would depend on the physical harm caused to another individual.
The Police Accountability Act is one of the most liberal ideas to make it to legislatures in the state. No doubt some police organizations will have issues with it. Such laws are often controversial because opponents see them as limiting police or endangering them. But the act also could end up helping those who honestly do end up victims of police brutality if it becomes law.