Stewart-Cousins: Consider Criminal Justice Reforms In Special Session
Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would support voting on criminal justice and grand jury reforms in a special session, she told reporters in Albany on Tuesday.
“I would hope that we would not have a special session that did not address these issues,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Along side members of her Democratic conference, Stewart-Cousins called for a special prosecutor to be temporarily appointed to review cases involving the deaths of unarmed civilians involving law enforcement.
On a more long-term concern, Senate Democrats want funding in the state budget to help police departments purchase body cameras for officers as well as the formation of a special investigator’s office to review police-related deaths.
“These are two basic, common-sense initiatives that it is our hope will begin to rebuild the trust between law enforcement agencies and the public they serve,” she said.
The call comes a day after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue an executive order granting him authority to review police-related deaths.
Cuomo’s office has said he is reviewing the request.
Stewart-Cousins said she would support either appointing a special prosecutor in future cases involving police deaths or have Schneiderman’s office take on that role directly until legislation ca be passed.
Cuomo himself in recent days has called for a series of criminal justice reforms as well as new police training following a Staten Island grand jury not issuing an indictment against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
The lack of an indictment, which came on the heels of a Missouri grand jury not indicting a white police in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, set off a wave of protests in New York City and across the country.
Cuomo has said he backs more transparency in the grand jury process as well as potentially appointing special prosecutors with deaths that involve police officers.
Cuomo also wants to enhance police training and equip some officers with body cameras.
While the Garner case and its develops have added more to lawmakers’ plates when they return to Albany, it appears unlikely such measures will be taken up in a special session.
Lawmakers and administration officials have cited the complexity of the criminal justice matters being proposed, saying more time is needed to parse through language (lawmakers and Cuomo may be wary of again taking up a complex issue so quickly following the 2013 gun control law known as the SAFE Act had to be amended to exclude police officers from the measure).
A special session, however, could provide maximum leverage for Cuomo with Senate Republicans, who have signaled a resistance to some of the police-related reforms that have been discussed in recent days.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on December 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm, and is filed under State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|