Some New York state senators and Assembly members have linked up with civil rights advocates and community groups. With the Legislature holding a hearing on criminal justice reform, they have announced their support for strengthening the governor’s “Executive Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2015” proposal in the 2015-2016 executive budget to require reporting on policing data.
“New York should set an example nationally by adopting comprehensive public reporting requirements for policing data that improves upon Governor Cuomo’s current proposal,” said Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform. “It’s critical that policymakers and communities know how New Yorkers are being impacted by police policies and practices, as reflected by the recommendation of President Obama’s task force. Complete transparency is the only way our state can take a first step towards improving justice, policing and safety for all New Yorkers.”
The group has called for more comprehensive data reporting, enhanced transparency through public release of the data and stronger individual privacy protections for New Yorkers. They want New York to be a leader in the collection and public reporting of police-related data. Elected officials and advocates specifically want Cuomo to propose that the police report on the race, ethnicity, age and sex of suspects in all violations and misdemeanors and for all arrest-related deaths. Advocates also want police to capture data on and provide separate analysis of arrests, appearance tickets and summonses along with protecting privacy on minor charges and including geographic indicators for enforcement activity.
New York Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, chair of the Standing Committee on Codes, praised the activists for their work.
“I applaud Communities United for Police Reform for their unrelenting leadership in increasing the transparency and accountability at all levels of our criminal justice system,” said Lentol in a statement. “I look forward to a final budget agreement which will give the public the most complete and holistic view of our summons system while fully protecting the privacy of our citizens.”
“Trust between law enforcement and the people that they serve is integral to the safety of our communities, but in order to make strides towards rebuilding it, law enforcement agencies must be transparent to the public,” said Jose Lopez, lead organizer of Make the Road New York, in a statement. “The collection and dissemination of police data on violations, misdemeanors, arrests and other law enforcement data aggregated by demographics is paramount to understanding and improving policing.”
The call for Cuomo to strengthen his proposal follows a report released by President Barack Obama’s Task Force on the 21st Century Policing that recommended law enforcement agencies increase transparency through improved collection and public reporting of policing data. Specifically, the Task Force recommended that agencies “collect, maintain and analyze demographic data on all detentions (stops, frisks, searches, summonses and arrests),” in addition to “officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths.”
“A significant part of this report concerns data collection and analysis by the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement jurisdictions,” said state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson in a statement. “We know from our work with stop-and-frisk that improvements in data collection here in New York must include age, gender, race and other important factors that are necessary to devise evidence-based policies to improve relations between citizens and the police.”
NAACP New York State Conference President Dr. Hazel Dukes said that the people of New York need to see the numbers.
“We know, anecdotally, that communities of color have been bearing the brunt of discriminatory policing practices across New York state for many years,” said Dukes in a statement. “We need more information from our police departments about how their practices and tactics affect our communities. This information is vital to begin the movement to reform police policies and practices so that all New Yorkers are safe and protected from civil rights violations at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve.”