State lawmakers are convening for a virtual session of the Legislature starting this week to take up a package of measures broadly meant to provide more oversight to law enforcement.
The bills, requiring better access to police disciplinary records and setting in law a special prosecutor within the state attorney general's office for investigating incidents in which a civilian is killed in interactions with police, come amid nationwide protests against police brutality.
Lawmakers had been due to end the legislative session earlier this month amid an upended primary calendar that has them defending their nominations -- or in some cases seeking higher office -- on June 23.
But the members of the state Senate and Assembly have found themselves responding to the nation's ills over the last three months, which are very much felt in New York. The Legisalture last met more than a week ago in a session largely held over video conference approving bills to help bolster the state's efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, the Legislature will meet to consider legislation expected to overhaul 50-a, a provision that has shielded police disciplinary records from public view.
Another bill would strengthen the required use of body cameras by police officers. And the Legislature is also considering a ban on the use of chokeholds by a police officer,a maneuver that led to the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014.
Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would classify as a hate crime making a false 911 report against a person of a protected class, a measure addressing a viral video in Central Park of a white woman calling the police on a black man who asked her to leash her dog.
And some measures take a broader civil rights theme: A bill in the Senate Finance Committee would change the name of the state Thruway System -- named for Governor Thomas Dewey -- after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
But the bills, broadly, address the killing of George Floyd, a Minnaepolis man who died after he was pinned under the knee of a police officer by his neck.
Floyd's death, ruled a homicide, has set off a wave of protests around the country and in New York in cities large and small. Some advocates are calling for measures beyond police reform, such as "defunding" departments, a move Governoor Andrew Cuomo said he opposed.
Cuomo has sought to frame the package as the "Say Their Name Agenda."