Executive Order Forces New York City To Have (Another) Go At Police Reform


Vannesa Boateng is 16 and from the Highbridge part of the Bronx. She has by no means felt relaxed across the many cops she sees in her neighborhood. As a substitute, she says she feels watched, like “a mouse in a maze.” 

“They’re right here to ensure I behave,” Boateng mentioned. “They’re right here to ensure I get the cheese, and I am going again dwelling — I’m by no means imagined to do anything however go to my goal and return dwelling.”

Boateng spoke final week at a digital discussion board on youth and policing. It was one among a number of city halls being held this month, organized by the coalition Communities United for Police Reform, in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s government order to “reinvent and modernize” policing. 

Cuomo issued the order final June following the demise of George Floyd and the huge protests for racial justice. It requires all 500 municipalities within the state with police departments to overview police practices and deployments, and to deal with problems with belief, equity and disproportionate policing in communities of colour.

Now a deadline is fast-approaching as a part of that order: New York Metropolis should undertake a plan to reform police practices by April 1st or danger a lack of future funding. 

Town is predicted to launch a draft set of beneficial reforms this month in an effort to fulfill the deadline. However, as of late, Mayor Invoice de Blasio has introduced some police reforms of his personal, together with new police self-discipline tips, a proposal to develop the oversight powers of the Civilian Grievance Evaluation Board, and a plan to develop community-based teams which might be a part of the Disaster Administration System to deal with gun violence.

“I need to emphasize this — for seven straight years we’ve been altering the best way we police New York Metropolis, making a number of reforms,” de Blasio mentioned final week. He outlined adjustments within the police division like a discount in cease and frisk, deploying body-worn cameras to all officers on patrol, and implementing new coaching packages. 

“There’s a lot to speak about,” de Blasio went on to say, “however it’s endless work as a result of it is probably the most human of labor. It’s so necessary to maintain engaged on the connection between those that defend us and the communities they serve.”

The Metropolis Council has additionally moved ahead with a few of its personal proposals, within the type of a package deal of 11 payments, meant to extend police accountability and cut back the scope of among the NYPD’s energy. These payments are being launched this week and subsequent. 

However leaders with Communities United for Police Uniform mentioned that the town needs to be centered on decreasing police interactions with the general public, and should hear extra carefully to these most harmed by police practices so as to meaningfully “reinvent” public security. The coalition organized a separate sequence of conferences this month on numerous matters, together with policing protests, police interactions with LGBTQ individuals, or ways in areas just like the Bronx and Staten Island.   

At one discussion board this week on police self-discipline, Constance Malcolm referred to as the newly unveiled police self-discipline matrix, hailed by metropolis leaders as a serious reform, a “sham.” 

Her son Ramarley Graham was killed by Police Officer Richard Haste in 2012. Haste shot Graham, who was unarmed, of their dwelling’s rest room. The officer resigned from the power earlier than getting fired. 

“All of those officers at all times get off,” mentioned Malcolm. “There’s no penalties for them.”

She mentioned officers who use extreme power—or who stand by as a fellow officer makes use of extreme power—needs to be fired. Others on the discussion board argued that officers needs to be terminated for conduct that routinely humiliates New Yorkers of colour and violates their rights, resembling improper searches.

“You’re telling me that Black persons are not price something,” Malcolm mentioned. “That’s what that matrix is telling me.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams mentioned that the self-discipline matrix is best than having no steering in any respect. However the bar for enchancment, round police accountability or different reform measures, is simply too low, he mentioned. 

“I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a quantity of reform that may get to the place we need to get to,” Williams mentioned on the discussion board on police self-discipline. He added, “What we have to do is get to a spot the place we’re not saying, ‘Okay, we’re doing the following greatest step.’ However the place we’re operating towards fairness, the place we’re operating towards justice in an intentional approach.”

The conferences organized by police reform advocates come months after the NYPD’s personal city halls on the topic. The outcomes of these boards, held final fall, will feed into the draft set of reform suggestions that metropolis officers mentioned they are going to launch this month. Communities United for Police Reform plans to additionally difficulty its personal report.

Yasmeen Khan reviews for Gothamist/WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit.