Cuomo tells municipal leaders across New York: Get moving on police reform

Photo via Flickr/Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo told elected officials across the state on Monday to get moving on his executive order that followed the unrest surrounding Minneapolis resident George Floyd’s murder in order to restore faith in law enforcement as well as keep the peace going forward.

In June, Cuomo signed an executive order for municipalities to submit a police reform plan by April 1, 2021 and the state Division of the Budget can condition what kind of aid is provided to localities based on these reforms. But it seems that local governments across New York are dragging their feet on the matter.

“Maintaining public safety is imperative; it is one of the essential roles of government. In order to achieve that goal, there must be mutual trust and respect between police and the communities they serve,” Cuomo said in the letter. “The success and safety of our society depends on restoring and strengthening mutual trust. With crime growing in many cities, we must seize this moment of crisis and turn it into an opportunity for transformation.”

During his Monday press conference, Cuomo explained that police-community tensions still persist after the unrest stemming from the murder of George Floyd. As a result, the public safety function of law enforcement has become “distorted” leading to a rise in murders, up 29%, and shootings, up 79% year-to-date.

“New York City, recent data, over 90% of the victims are Black and Brown… You want to talk about social justice, you want to talk about civil rights, you want to talk about social equity? How do you explain that?” Cuomo said. “There are real feelings on both sides, I understand that. Acknowledge them and then you have to move to resolve them.”

On Sunday night, 51 people in the five boroughs were wounded in shooting incidents, as amNewYork Metro reported. A total of six were fatally shot.

“I’m saying in the letter today that if you don’t have a plan that is a reimagined police department by next April there will be no state funding for that jurisdiction,” Cuomo added.

According to Cuomo, discussion topics for police reform should:

  • Review the needs of the community served by its police agency, and evaluate the department’s current policies and practices.
  • Establish policies that allow police to effectively and safely perform their duties.
  • Involve the entire community in the discussion.
  • Develop policy recommendations resulting from this review.
  • Offer a plan for public comment.
  • Present the plan to the local legislative body to ratify or adopt it.
  • Certify adoption of the plan to the State Budget Director on or before April 1, 2021.

New York City’s efforts to bring reform to NYPD has not been viewed as a success in recent weeks as the plan from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson eliminated about $1 billion from the department’s usual $6 billion annual budget. Activists and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement had hoped to see greater, less topical change.