New York Attorney General Letitia James is pushing new legislation that would target law enforcement's use of deadly force.
James announced the bill being introduced to the state legislature would amend changes to New York's use of force law from "one of simple necessity" to an "absolute last resort."
"In New York, our laws have essentially given police blanket defense to use force in interactions with the public, making it exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to go after officers who have abused this power," James said in a statement Friday. "The Police Accountability Act will make critical and necessary changes to the law, providing clear and legitimate standards for when the use of force is acceptable and enacting real consequences for when an officer crosses that line.
"While this is an important step in addressing the shortfalls of our criminal justice system, it is not a cure all for the ills that have impacted too many families and claimed too many lives," she added. "We must continue to do everything in our power to protect our communities and ensure that no one is beyond the reach of justice."
The law would still allow officers to defend themselves and others within a "reasonable" fashion, James noted.
"Currently, the 'excessive use of force' is a term of poetry in the state of New York," state Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, said in sponsoring the bill. "This important legislation corrects that and defines it in the law. 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 Benevolent Association believed differently, however, believing the law would put officers at a disadvantage when confronting criminals.
"This sweeping proposal would make it impossible for police officers to determine whether or not we are permitted to use force in a given situation," NYPBA President Patrick Lynch said. "The only reasonable solution will be to avoid confrontations where force might become necessary. Meanwhile, violent criminals certainly aren't hesitating to use force against police officers or our communities.
"The bottom line: More cops and more regular New Yorkers are going to get hurt."
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