As we have recently seen, the tragic and avoidable death of George Floyd brought to the national consciousness a renewed sense of anger and frustration at the many instances in which people of color have been subjected to unnecessary, and sometimes deadly, force at the hands of police officers. I believe that the majority of police officers are good people who protect and serve the entire community with professionalism and respect. However, the filmed history of events over the past several years has revealed a systemic lack of accountability that has sown distrust in many communities.
In response to an outcry for legislative action from across the state, my colleagues and I passed a package of bills which seeks to rebuild the trust between police officers and the communities they protect. This package, signed into law by the Governor, includes measures to allow access to police disciplinary records, affirms the right of people to record law enforcement activity, bans racial and ethnic profiling, protects the health and safety of those in custody and establishes offices to oversee police misconduct. Provisions were also added to the Public Officers Law that would safeguard a police officers personal information from disclosure.
Of course, this is just a start. There is more work to be done to address the racism that infects many of our societal structures and institutions. However, it is my hope that measures such as these, to increase police accountability and transparency, along with improved training and policing protocols, will help build trust in the community and lead to better and more effective law enforcement. Our work will continue.