Tuesday, July 28, 2020

PUBLIC ADVOCATE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION PROMOTING POLICE TRANSPARENCY AND PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF MINORS


  New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams introduced multiple pieces of legislation in the City Council today to advance transparency in policing and protect the rights of minors in police custody amid a citywide and national movement for police reform.

"In the midst of a long-overdue national conversation on policing and public safety, it is critical to support transparency and protect against abuses, whether a police encounter is on the street or in a precinct," said Public Advocate Williams of the bills. "These legislative efforts are part of a broader reimagining of what public safety is, and how law enforcement and civilians interact."

The first of the bills, Intro 2013, would provide transparency in police use of force by Taser or other electronic weapon by requiring police officers to download the electrical weapon data at the end of each tour. The bill would also require that for any new contracts, contract renewals, or contract modifications of body worn cameras, such cameras must be capable of automatically beginning recording when an electrical weapon is armed or its trigger is pulled.

A 2019 report by the Civilian Complaint Review Board indicated the NYPD only downloads Taser data in the event of a critical incident or suspected misconduct, rather than as a routine. It recommended that it should do more to train officers and prevent any improper use, as well as provide detailed reporting on such use. 

The analysis further showed a racial disparity in complaints related to Taser usage, with 53% of complainants being Black and 67% of officers involved being white. It also noted an increase in the number of Tasers used by the department, particularly from 2016-2017, and a commensurate increase in the number of Taser discharge events.

The second piece of legislation, Intro 2012, would require the NYPD Commissioner to
report on custodial interrogations of minors. Such report would include:
  • The total number of times the department attempted to conduct a custodial interrogation of a minor in the previous quarter
  • The precinct of the arresting officer and borough where the arrest took place
  • Whether a parent or legal guardian of the minor was informed of the arrest prior to the interrogation
  • Whether the minor spoke to an attorney prior to the interrogation
  • Whether the minor was notified of their Miranda Rights, and whether the minor waived such rights.. 
The Public Advocate also introduced a resolution calling on the Governor and State Legislature to enact S4980A/A6982, which would make it clear that police are required to immediately notify parents that their child will be taken into custody before taking the child into custody and would amend the criminal procedure law to require that persons under 18-years-old consult with counsel before being subjected to custodial interrogation.

Issues surrounding police interrogations of young people have long been controversial, from the questioning of the young boys then known as the Central Park Five in 1989 to questions stemming from interrogations related to the 2019 murder of Tessa Majors in Morningside Park.

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