NEW YORK STATE — Video of the murder of George Floyd and footage of officers attacking mostly peaceful protesters in cities has rocketed around the world, sparking more protests and …
NEW YORK STATE — Video of the murder of George Floyd and footage of officers attacking mostly peaceful protesters in cities has rocketed around the world, sparking more protests and conversations about the role of the police.
Following on that, the New York State Assembly and Senate this week passed broad police reform legislation. Notably, chokeholds are banned and recording of certain police activity by the public is specifically protected. Also, section 50-a of the state Civil Rights Law will be repealed: It shielded police, firefighter and corrections officer personnel records from the public. In addition, those who summon police “without reason” in a non-emergency, “where a reasonable person would not suspect such violation, conduct, or threat” may be liable in court (the “Amy Cooper” law).
As of this writing, Gov. Cuomo has signed off on part of the legislation, which would enact sweeping police reforms. (See sidebar.)
The protests and conversations are happening here, too. But in a rural area like Sullivan, the situation is different and not all the reforms apply, say people in county law enforcement.
Much of what was banned “are things we don’t do here,” said acting county DA Meagan Galligan. “Our communities recognize that.”
That we’re rural makes a difference. “Our police are connected to the community,” said Galligan. They work with coaches and teachers, they live next door. The police “are just people.”
Of course, “there are tensions,” she said. But “no one should feel unsafe based on the color of their skin.”
In recent years, police training and department focus have shifted “to being proactive rather than reactive,” she said.
“Law enforcement and police work in Sullivan County is geared toward grassroots police work,” said retired county judge Frank LaBuda. “We are fortunate to have police officers... who know the needs, the problems, they know the ‘bad guys’ and the knuckleheads. You need police who know the difference.”
Galligan and LaBuda will face off in a Republican primary for the DA office on Tuesday, June 23.
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