NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
June 4, 2008


Assembly Passes Package To Improve Police And Community Relations

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the successful passage of a package of legislation to encourage greater cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve throughout New York by prohibiting the use of racial or ethnic profiling in traffic stops and searches. The package also includes legislation requiring that police officers in New York City who discharge their weapons during the course of duty be tested for drugs and alcohol and a bill increasing compensation to city police officers who utilize foreign languages during the course of their work.

"The bedrock of safe and prosperous communities is effective communication and trust between residents and law enforcement," Silver (D-Manhattan) said. "With this package, the Assembly will increase community and police cooperation by clearly prohibiting profiling citizens based upon their race or ethnicity. By passing this legislation, the Assembly also encourages our hardworking police officers working in communities where English may be a second language for some residents, to use their own foreign language skills to better communicate with residents."

"The use of racial and ethnic profiling in police work has been a great source of tension between minority communities and law-enforcement across the country," Lentol (D-Brooklyn) said. "Rather than serving as an adequate tool for police, it has erected a wall of alienation and mistrust in the way of meaningful police work. The Assembly bill not only prohibits this practice, but also gives victims of racial profiling a means of redress. It is our hope that by creating better relations between police and minority communities, New York can enhance its top priority, public safety."

In addition to prohibiting racial and ethnic profiling, the legislation (A.627-A/Wright) requires police departments to maintain procedures for profiling complaints and mandates that each department collect and maintain data on all traffic stops and "stop and frisk" actions would be submitted annually to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The legislation also permits victims of racial or ethnic profiling to seek damages.

"I commend Speaker Silver for his strong leadership and being a stalwart supporter on these issues," said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright (D-Manhattan). "People should not be afraid of the future. These bills are not anti-police. Instead, we look for improved community relations, equity, parity and justice in our police departments across the state."

The Assembly also passed other measures to improve police and community relations, including legislation requiring that police officers in New York City who have discharged their service weapon in the course of duty or whose abilities otherwise appear to be impaired to be tested for drugs or alcohol within three hours of using their firearm (A.786/Wright). The legislation would help to assure the public of an officer's fitness at the time of the discharge of a firearm.

In addition, the Assembly passed legislation providing a salary increase for city police officers who make use of foreign language during the course of their police duties (A.4716/Espaillat). The bill gives greater incentive to those who speak foreign languages to seek employment in police departments and helps police better communicate with growing multi-lingual immigrant communities.

"This bill ensures that there will be greater communication between community residents and local precincts," said Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, (D-Bronx) "It works by providing a language program for precincts across New York City and New York State that allows for language-salary compensation for officers who utilize other languages while on duty."

In addition, the Assembly package includes legislation requiring police training councils to develop and administer training programs to increase awareness of racial, ethnic, religious and gender issues (A.564A/Wright). The bill would to help law enforcement better understand the cultural aspects of the individual communities that they serve.

As a part of the Assembly's commitment to help increase cooperation between law enforcement and communities across the state, the Assembly also passed the following legislation which would:

  • Permit the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute alleged police misconduct (A.715/Wright).
  • Regulate the use of "no-knock" search warrants, while monitoring the use of all search warrants (A.776-A/Wright).
  • Authorize an easier method to appeal the denial or granting of a change of venue if either party believes a fair trial would be impossible otherwise (A.780/Wright).
  • Allow police officers in a city with a population of 100,000 or more to be given a preference in finding available public housing units in order to live in the city in which they work (A.3227-A/Diaz).
  • Require law enforcement agencies to disclose to the court applications for search warrants previously denied (A.5063/Titus).

"Today the Assembly has put forth legislation that answers the demand for justice and creates real change," said Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Queens) "This package will go far to address the obstacles faced in improving police and community relations, particularly in minority communities."

"Once again, I am proud to be a member of the Assembly Majority Conference, which understands the seriousness of these issues," said Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. (D-Bronx) "This package of legislation deals with enhancing police and community relations while at the same time addressing community concerns of racial profiling, drug and alcohol testing and myriad other concerns."