ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ratified legislation requiring New York State Police to wear body cameras on Tuesday.
Cuomo also ratified a measure creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office. Supporters say these new laws promote accountability, transparency, and trust in law enforcement agencies.
“New York is the progressive capital of the nation, and we are leading the way by enacting real reforms to increase transparency in policing, promote accountability among our law enforcement agencies and ultimately mend that frayed relationship between the police and the community,” said Cuomo.
S.8493/A.8674 requires all state troopers to wear body cameras while on patrol, and to record:
- Immediately before exiting a patrol vehicle to interact with a person or situation
- Uses of force, arrests, and summonses
- Interactions with criminal suspects
- Searches of people and property
- Calls to a crime in progress
- Interactions with members of the public during investigations
- Interactions with emotionally disturbed people
- Whenever an officer feels imminent danger
- Whenever an officer feels the need to record time on duty
The law also requires law enforcement to maintain video databases of all recordings. It creates no requirements for local law enforcement agencies, police departments, or sheriff’s offices.
In a statement New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association President Thomas H. Mungeer says, “We have never been opposed to the use of body cameras and we believe they will be more important now during this time of increased scrutiny on the law enforcement community.” Mungeer says the union has been looking into body cameras for over a year, and hopes their funding will not be taken from the existing police budget.
Also Tuesday, Cuomo signed S.3595-C/A.10002, which creates the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office, an independent body within the Department of Law—which is headed by the Attorney General. The new Office must review, study, audit, and make recommendation to police while increasing or protecting:
- Effectiveness of law enforcement
- Public safety
- Civil liberties and civil rights
- Compliance with constitutional protections, and local, state, and federal laws
- Public confidence in law enforcement
The Office also handles misconduct complaints about any local law enforcement agency statewide, allowing for an independent review of complaints of misconduct for any local law enforcement agency.