If New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gets his way, he will be in control of cases involving unarmed civilians killed by police, taking over the duty from district attorneys.

At a press conference this week, attended by a host of elected officials in favor of the idea, Schneiderman said he sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally requesting that the governor immediately issue an interim executive order directing the Office of the Attorney General to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute cases involving unarmed civilians killed by police officers.

While several proposals for reforming the criminal justice system are expected to be considered when the State Legislature reconvenes, the attorney general noted the urgent need for immediate action to restore public trust in the outcome of cases involving unarmed civilians killed by law enforcement officers by ensuring these cases receive a thorough, impartial and independent review.

“The horrible events surrounding the death of Eric Garner have revealed a deep crisis of confidence in some of the fundamental elements of our criminal justice system,” said Schneiderman. “Nothing could be more critical for both the public and the police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe than acting immediately to restore trust and confidence in the independence of reviews in any case involving an unarmed civilian killed by a law enforcement officer. While several worthy legislative reforms have been proposed, the governor has the power to act today to solve this problem. I strongly encourage him to take action now.”

Elected officials at the press conference noted that their constituents have lost faith in the criminal justice system, with the lack of indictment in both the Eric Garner and the Michael Brown case. Many complain that law enforcement and DAs are unfit to fairly investigate the police department.

“Recent national events have raised serious questions about the ability of local prosecutors to bring charges against police officers,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “It is unrealistic to expect district attorneys who regularly rely on local police to make cases to be absolutely impartial when investigating police misconduct. In order to remove conflict of interest or bias, it is imperative that a separate prosecutor—with no connection to the local police department— pursue police misconduct cases,”

A recent report indicated that over the past 15 years, 179 unarmed people in the city have been killed by police, including Amadou Diallo, Shem Walker and Kimani Gray. During that time, only one officer was found guilty in court.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., said, “Placing the authority for investigating and prosecuting cases involving police abuse with an independent and impartial prosecutor will help to ensure that biases, conflicts of interest and politics do not infect systemic efforts to hold police accountable for their conduct and [to] ensure the integrity of the process for all.”

Assemblymember Michael Blake said the idea shows immediate action in the face of injustice and a push for a much fairer process.

“We cannot allow for decisions around addressing police misconduct to be up to a local district attorney, where it appears relationships are taking precedence to justice, especially when someone loses their life,” he said.

While many are praising the idea of giving Schneiderman control over cases involving police killings of unarmed civilians, some are opposed to the idea.

In a statement, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said voters elected their DAs to keep them safe and make just decisions.

“Local prosecutors who are elected to enforce the laws in those communities should not be robbed of their ability to faithfully and fairly do so in cases where police officers shoot, kill or injure someone unjustly,” he said. The people of Brooklyn have voted for their district attorney to keep them safe from all crimes, including those of police brutality. The attorney general’s proposal would override their choice, and that should not happen.”