Police Reform In New York
Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN discussing the State of New York legislature which is poised to pass a series of sweeping criminal justice reforms, including requiring state troopers to wear body cameras and repealing a 44-year old statute blocking public access to police officers’ disciplinary records.
Please take a listen or read the transcription below.
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Joe: 106.7 WIZN. That is Stevie Nicks in the “Edge of Seventeen.” Heard the Scorpions and “No One Like You” before that. Joe Vega here with you in your Wednesday Rocking Ride Home. And I’m joined now by Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Paul.
Paul: Hey Joe, how are you?
Joe: I’m doing well. So I wanted to ask you about this State of New York legislature which is poised to pass a series of sweeping criminal justice reforms this week including requiring state troopers to wear body cameras and repealing a 44-year old statute blocking public access to police officers’ disciplinary records. So what can you tell us about this?
Paul: Well, I think that a couple things for sure are gonna pass. One is gonna be the body cams for the state police officers, and there’s some upside to everybody. The state police officers get to have it taped and they get to have a rendition of the facts, and then you’ve got more disclosure to everybody, right? So I think that that is gonna pass. Also, they’re gonna bar chokeholds. No chokeholds when you are subduing a suspect. Most of the counties don’t allow it now, but some do, so that’s gonna be New York State law.
Paul: Then, of course, the hot button you mentioned was this 50-A of the civil service law, and it really is gonna allow for freedom of information requests to find out if police or firefighters or correction officers have had complaints against them and what the dispositions of them were.
Joe: What are the possible negative aspects of that?
Paul: Yeah, I guess it can be one of those things where you’re innocent until proven guilty approach to life, and it’s so true, right? So somebody could just use that as a weapon and say, “Hey, I’m gonna do this and say that,” and then it gets dismissed immediately. But if they start looking at every time somebody is giving a complaint against you, well, maybe number of complaints versus what the actual complaint was. At the end of the day, police involvement generally is during a situation. They’re not wanted there. It’s generally adversarial, and it’s generally something going that’s not normally going on, right? So by definition, there’s conflict. And by definition, there’s gonna be high temperature going on around that interaction. So probably the upside is just the public will know more what’s happening. They can use that. Maybe some officers don’t get invited back. Maybe some officers don’t get that promotion. But also, as long as these things are carefully looked at, again, most police officers are doing fantastic, and there’s always that bad apple, and we don’t wanna paint a picture of there being this epidemic of this. But by the same token, disclosure will prove that.
Joe: Okay. Well, thank you very much. Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Paul: All right. See you, Joe.
Joe: Remember, you can call Paul at any time or any of the fine lawyers at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. All right, I’m out of here. Turning things over to Mel Allen. Now he’s got music from Rush and Boston next.