As demonstrations and protests around the country last year were held in communities large and small following the killing of George Floyd, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed local officials and community leaders themselves come up with changes to how policing is conducted on the local level.
The changes were submitted this month, tied to state aid. Implementing those changes now will be closely watched.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on Tuesday after kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than 9 minutes in May 2020. State lawmakers in New York in a range of statements on Tuesday said Floyd should still be alive today, and there's more work to be done.
"This verdict is a small step towards accountability, but true justice resides in the work that lies ahead to redress centuries of tragedy and trauma inflicted on and endured by so many Black men and women in this country," said Sen. Samra Brouk, a Democrat who represents the Rochester area. "George Floyd should still be alive today. And although nothing can bring him back to his family, we must continue to honor him by actively working to transform and rebuild our policing systems to equally serve all of us. May this verdict provide some sense of peace to the Floyd family and Black communities across the country."
It's yet known what changes lawmakers may seek in Albany. There have already been a range of criminal justice law reforms in recent years meant to de-escalate the drug war and keep people out of jail by ending cash bail requirements.
Some lawmakers are calling for changes to the parole system in an effort to streamline the process and make it easier for older inmates to gain their freedom. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins did not rule out in a news conference on Tuesday taking up those measures by the end of the legislative session in June.
The Chauvin trial in Minnesota played out differently than the grand jury outcome in the case of the death of Daniel Prude, who died last year while in police custody in Rochester. Attorney General Letitia James last week took the unusual step of releasing the transcript of the grand jury proceedings in Prude's death.
"While true justice will never be served as long as Black men and women are subjected to such inequality," James said of the Chauvin verdict, "today, we are one step closer to a fairer system."