Manhattan legislators push for new criminal justice reform in light of NYPD’s use of excessive force


Legislative Gazette photos by Matthew Conradi

Two state lawmakers are condemning what they call overly aggressive action by the NYPD on Saturday as they broke up a protest and march in honor of Breonna Taylor.

Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Deborah Glick issued the following statement: Last night, bystanders and protesters in our districts in Greenwich Village were charged and pushed to the ground in a disturbing escalation of force by NYPD officers, which was unwarranted and unacceptable.”

The escalation of events happened in the area of Hudson and West 10th Street outside of the Cowgirl restaurant. 

This is one of many cases of police brutality the nation has seen since protests erupted over the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. When compared to other states like Oregon, California, and Minnesota, protests in New York have been largely peaceful. The fires and looting of the 2020 summer in New York have, for the most part, subsided. Seeing this display of force on a small group of around 150 protesters in the West Village instead of a more appropriate de-escalation of the protests occurring, has led to widespread outrage surrounding the incident. 12 arrests were made by police that night, with charges for disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration.

Hoylman and Glick made several demands of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, including releasing the names of the commanding officers that authorized the use of force, releasing the Department of Investigation and the Law Department’s report on the violent policing of protests.

The Department of Investigation and Law were supposed to have released a report about their investigation into excessive police force in the protests over the summer on August 31st. The people of New York still await that report. The Department of Investigation’s major functions include investigating and referring for criminal prosecution cases of fraud, corruption and other illegal activities by City employees. It reports to the Mayor and City council but operates independently of both.

Also included in their list of demands is to hold officers accountable for violating public trust with terminations and to move the final disciplinary authority to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. This independent agency investigates and recommends action on complaints against New York City police officers alleging the use of excessive or unnecessary force. This agency also operates independently of the police department.

Finally, Hoylman and Glick are calling for the passage of bill S.7527/A.10560, which would repeal Chapter 834 of the Laws of 1940, which would result in a more independent and nonpartisan review of police misconduct in New York. 

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, would remove some of the unique restrictions on the removal procedures for police officers in New York state. Specifically, the legislation would negate the current rule that gives a “deputy or other employee” of the police agency head the authority to conduct removal hearings for police officers. Courts have interpreted this language to mean that police disciplinary proceedings must take place entirely within police department structures.

The bill states that, “Public trust and confidence in law enforcement requires independent, effective, and accessible mechanisms for holding police officers accountable for misconduct.” Under current laws, police disciplinary proceedings take place within police department structures and are confidential to the public. 

The bill is intended to give police chiefs and local governments more nonpartisan options for proceedings such as OATH, an independent and impartial administrative law court whose administrative judges preside over disciplinary cases involving hundreds of thousands of New York City civil servants.

Hoylman and Glick hope that their list of demands will bring forth a new wave of police reform relating to the use of force on New York residents.