AG Backs Special Session For Police Reform Action
From the Morning Memo:
Though he is seeking short-term jurisdiction over cases in which unarmed civilians are killed by police officers, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he believes the governor and lawmakers should act sooner rather than later to reform the entire criminal justice system.
“I think a special session would be great,” the AG said during a CapTon interview last night. “I think it’s important to show that we take this seriously, to address it.”
“We are ambitious and we have been for a long time,” Schneiderman continued. “I think it’s important for us to show leadership on this issue…this is not a situation where we don’t have empirical evidence on what criminal justice policy is. We have it; we just have to follow it.”
Schneiderman later said he sees the current conversation sparked by the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases as a “national movement” for change, adding: “I think we need clarity, and I think we need action. And this is action we can take now.
Schneiderman has said that the executive order he’s seeking from Cuomo giving his officer the power to investigate and prosecute these cases should expire when the governor and legislative leaders reach a reform agreement.
The AG said that he believes the changes should be widespread because “the law in this area is messed up beyond what most New Yorkers understand.”
But he declined to say specifically what should be done, refusing to take a position on any of the bills that already exist or legislation floated in the wake of the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges against an NYPD officer in Garner’s chokehold death.
The AG also refused to say whether he supports the grand jury decision.
“I’m passing no judgement on that, and honestly, I think it’s unfair for anyone to pass judgement on that because we don’t know what happened in the grand jury,” he explained.
Schneiderman said his request, which Cuomo’s office has under review, will “compel the Legislature to act,” though he also noted change is often slow to come to Albany – especially on controversial issues like police training and oversight.
The AG said communication between himself and the governor on this issue has so far been limited to the staff level. He also defended his decision not to give a heads-up to the state’s district attorneys before going public with his request, insisting that he did not intend to offend or impugn them.
Schneiderman is not alone is saying this issue should be dealt with in a special session – should one occur between now and the regularly scheduled session in January.
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins yesterday said she hopes no special will take place without addressing grand jury and police reforms – an about-face from her comments on CapTon last week, when she said she didn’t believe there was enough time to put together any agreements.
The Senate Democrats have proposed appointing a special prosecutor to review any deaths of unarmed civilians involving police officers. They are also calling for additional funding in the 2015-16 budget for police body cameras.
Stewart-Cousins said she could support the AG’s request for jurisdiction until a long-term legislative solution can be found.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on December 10, 2014 at 9:12 am, and is filed under Attorney General. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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