Man: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti.
Interviewer: Following the death of George Floyd, protestors and lawmakers alike have called for sweeping reform to the criminal justice system and this country’s model for policing. In New York, legislators have passed a series of bills that would affect how the state police operate and Governor Cuomo has made clear that he intends to sign those bills into law once they reach his desk. I spoke with Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, earlier today, to find out how these laws could affect you.
So what types of changes are being proposed in terms of the way policing will take place in New York?
Paul: Yeah, there is lots of talk about lots of changes, but two changes that I think are going to happen for sure is state police are going to be wearing body cameras. Now, it protects the police, it protects the public and it makes a lot more awareness. So I think that is going to go through. Secondly, there will be officially no chokeholds when you are apprehending someone for arrest. Many counties don’t do it. Albany County for one has not used chokeholds in years, but it will be the state law as soon as it hits in the governor’s desk.
Interviewer: Are there any proposed changes regarding the hiring or even retention of police officers?
Paul: Yeah, the Civil Service Law has one Section 50-a and what it has done historically over the years is make personnel files of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters unable to be obtained through freedom of information. That looks like it is going to change. That will have an effect on promotions and keeping officers and just generally the public being aware of what is happening. Again not a bad thing, but a very big thing because it just hasn’t happened ever.
Interviewer: Do any of the proposed laws directly affect our viewers or just the general public when it comes to interacting with the police?
Paul: Yeah, what it’s going to do, it’s going to allow if you are interacting with police and you’re not under arrest you can photograph or video that interaction. Or if you’re somewhere else and you’re, kind of, watching it you can do that. And whatever device you have cannot be taken from you. It can’t be erased. I think that is going to be law. Historically, that’s where a lot of the good footage comes from, right? People just observe something and it’s like, “Wow, look at that.”
Secondly, if you falsely report a crime and that crime involves gender bias or racial bias, that’s going to be allocated to a hate crime. And so that’s going to really put some teeth into that law.
Interviewer: All right, Paul. Thanks so much for your time today and answering our questions. We really appreciate it.
Paul: Glad to be here, thank you.
Interviewer: Of course, for more information about your rights, visit the “What are your rights?” section that’s located on our website: cbs6albany.com.