The New York City Police Department should implement a package of changes that include more oversight and accountability in the wake of protests following the killing of George Floyd in May, according to a report released Wednesday by Attorney General Letitia James.
The report comes amid an ongoing investigation by James's office into the NYPD's repsonse to the protest and weeks after state lawmakers in June approved police reform bills that criminalize the use of choke holds and allow for the disclosure of police disciplinary records. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed those measures into law.
The investigation was implemented amid criticism of the NYPD's tactics during the protests, which included controversial maneuvers like "kettling" in which demonstrators are boxed in officers. James's pointed to that tactic, as well as use-of-force complaints and the treatment of essential workers by police during a declared curfew.
“While our investigation remains ongoing, after 30 days of intense scrutiny, it is impossible to deny that many New Yorkers have lost faith in law enforcement,” she said in a statement. “We must bridge the undeniable divide between the police and the public, and this preliminary report, and the recommendations included, is an important step forward. We must begin the hard work of reevaluating the role of police in society and ensuring that there are mechanisms for public oversight, accountability, and input. Progress is possible, but, first, change and accountability are needed.”
Preliminary recomendations include public participation and oversight for department policies and leadership, overhauling the role of police in the community and creating a system of police officer accountability for misconduct.
Cuomo has tied the development of police reforms on the local level to state aid, with plans due by April 1 of next year.