The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville during the summer of 2020 sparked protests across the country. New Yorkers took to the streets in the thousands, fed up with the near-total impunity police officers experience when they abuse and kill people. In response, state legislators passed several reform measures that will bring more transparency and accountability to police departments across the state.
But we still have a long way to go to hold police responsible when they abuse New Yorkers. Real accountability begins with greater transparency and independent oversight of the people who are supposed to protect us.
Here are some steps to demand action in New York State.
Police are not the Answer to Mental Health Crises
In March 2020, Daniel Prude was experiencing an acute mental health crisis when his family called 911 for help. He was naked in the street, and posed no risk to any other person. Yet, Rochester Police responded in force, handcuffed him, placed a hood over his head, and held him face down on the cold pavement until he stopped breathing.
Daniel’s story is sadly not unique. Studies show that up to half of people who become victims of police violence have a disability – and overwhelmingly, a mental health disability. Daniel’s Law would ensure that a mental health crisis is treated as a public health issue, not a public safety threat, and that our response to these crises centers on consensual, community-informed care and de-escalation. It would mandate that mental health professionals – not police – are the first responders to mental health crises.
Stop Local Law Enforcement from doing ICE's bidding
For years ICE has tried to divide us, determined to cruelly target immigrants and separate families. ICE continues to lean on local law enforcement and local government agencies to search for, arrest, and deport people, and to separate families who are part of our New York.
The New York for All Act broadly prohibits state and local officers from enforcing federal immigration laws, funneling people into ICE custody, and sharing sensitive information with ICE. This bill is critical to helping immigrant New Yorkers to lead freer lives and take care of family, preserves state and local resources for our communities, and ensures New York dollars cannot be diverted to carry out ICE cruelty.
Increase Transparency & Accountability
New Yorkers have a right to know what rules the police are following to keep us safe. But far too often, police departments across the state don’t have clear or specific policies in place, or they are made with no community input and hidden from the public.
The NYCLU has developed a comprehensive database and online tool to allow you to peek behind the curtain. Go behind the badge to learn more and get involved.