Recent Crime Policies
Over the past two years, we have seen an outpouring of attention directed at laws and policies regarding criminal justice and the courts. On May 21st 2021, New York Attorney General Letitia James put out a press release announcing reforms to force laws. More specifically, the legislation entitled the Police Accountability Ace changes New York’s laws governing police violence to strengthen prosecutors’ ability to hold officers accountable for unjustified and excessive use of force. The Police Accountability Act more specifically includes a series of reforms to improve protocols when police officers use force, specifically, lethal force by specifying that use of force must be a last resort by amending current law to exhaust options such as de-escalation, verbal warnings, or lower level uses of force before using lethal force. The law also specifies that suspicion of criminal conduct cannot justify use of lethal force. Attorney General James’ release denotes that lethal force cannot be used just because of simple suspicion of criminal conduct.
New York’s current law authorizes police to use lethal force based on simple belief that a suspect has committed a crime. The Police Accountability Act seeks to relieve this by eliminating justification for lethal force based on suspicion alone. The Police Accountability Act also provides a mechanism for prosecutors to consider an officer’s own responsibility for creating the need for force to begin with. If prosecuted, the Police Accountability Act also establishes criminal penalties for police officers that utilize excessive force. “Currently, the ‘excessive use of force’ is a term of poetry in the state of New York. This important legislation corrects that and defines it in the law,” said State Senator Kevin Parker. “This creates a reasonable expectation for law enforcement as well as the people of our great state. Thank you to the attorney general for your leadership on this important issue.”
The New York Police Department receives an annual budget of about $6 billion. The New York Police Union is the largest in the country. Other laws in the state ban chokeholds and other uses of excessive force. Laws banning racial profiling and excessive force, however, do not go far enough to curtail civilian deaths by law enforcement. In order to effectively halt the ongoing onslaught of deaths at the hands of police officers, policymakers must cut the issue at the source rather than reinvigorating existing police forces. The police system is past the point of repair. New York city Mayor Eric Adams has reinvigorated crime by displacing homeless people and investing in police systems. Rather than investing in housing, halting gentrification, allowing for more affordable healthcare within the city and bolstering education, former policeman Adams has continue to pick at the wrong source when trying to alleviate crime in the city.
The cure to rogue police officers and rampant crime is not reinvestment. It’s divestment in our police systems and the allocation of such funds into resources for those who are too often ignored by those in power. This includes housing, education, and food resources.