New York City becomes the first major city in the nation to end qualified police officer immunity after city council votes on sweeping reforms, including a $ 1 billion cut in the NYPD’s budget.
New York City Council voted Thursday to end qualified police officers’ immunity, which will open the door for them to file civil lawsuits once the bill is signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to a report. press release
“Together, the state and federal versions of qualified immunity have effectively prevented countless police brutality victims and their families from receiving financial compensation and holding officers and the cities that employ them accountable,” the press release reads.
Last summer, the city announced a series of reforms and moved to divert $ 1 billion from the NYPD budget following protests across the country following George Floyd’s death.
New York City Council voted Thursday to end qualified agent immunity, which will open the door to civil lawsuits once the bill is signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
New York City Council Chairman Corey Johnson praised the legislation, saying qualified immunity was “ rooted in the history of systemic racism in our nation. ”
The legislation ending qualified immunity creates a new local civil right that protects New Yorkers from “unreasonable searches and seizures” and “excessive force” while also banning it as a defense.
Colorado also recently eliminated doctrine – but New York City will become the first major city to do so after George Floyd’s death brought greater police scrutiny.
New York City Council Chairman Corey Johnson praised the legislation, saying that qualified immunity was “rooted in the history of systemic racism in our nation.”
“Qualified immunity was instituted in Mississippi in 1967 to prevent Freedom Riders from holding government officials accountable even if they break the law,” Johnson tweeted.
“Rooted in the history of systemic racism in our nation, qualified immunity denied Freedom Riders justice and has been used for decades to deny justice to victims of police abuse.”
He added, “It should never have been allowed, but I am proud that we took action today to end it here in NYC.”
The New York City law also comes with a series of sweeping bills and provisions that will pull authorities away from the NYPD and transfer them to other agencies as the city moves towards police reform.
In one proposal, the authority to issue and revoke press passes will shift from the NYPD to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Press data to report on police crime scenes has long been provided by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information.
Another bill will create a crash investigation and analysis unit within the Department of Transportation, making them responsible for investigating all serious injury accidents, rather than NYPD police officers.
Councilor Ydanis Rodriguez, chairman of the Transportation Commission, noted that “the NYPD will keep the investigation process up” after prosecutors raised the alarm about the bill.
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In another bill, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates police misconduct, is given ultimate authority to punish police officers
In a related bill, the NYPD is now required to issue a quarterly report on all traffic and vehicle stops and separate the information by district, race and ethnicity, and the age of the driver.
These reports also include information about the subpoenas issued and the number of arrests made, as well as whether the vehicle was searched and whether the driver authorized the search.
In yet another bill, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates police misconduct, is given ultimate authority to punish police officers with a history of bias and complaints about racial profiling.
Currently, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea can ignore a recommendation from the CCRB and choose not to punish police for their behavior and conduct.
Another resolution supports a New York State bill that would require NYPD officers to live in New York City – which they don’t currently have to do.
“By requiring NYPD officers to live in the boroughs, they can be integrated into the community they patrol,” Francisco Moya, NYC council member said in the release.
“Knowing their neighbors and the problems in the neighborhood opens the way for police officers to create trust and build relationships with the community.”