POLICE REFORM PLAN
The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's a start for how we can proceed:
Repeal Law 50-a: (making disciplinary records of NYPD public) and establish a statewide database of police misconduct complaints against officers. This section within the New York Civil Rights Law has been used as a cudgel against citizens who have sought police officers' personnel records and their possible history of misconduct. (Since passed by New York state)
Establish a statewide and citywide database on average response times for crimes in legislative districts. Often, when elected officials have called upon police reforms, we've seen response times suffer in distinct legislative districts due to retaliation. This must be tracked, and police precincts who practice these methods will have to be held accountable.
Require individual officers to pay for liability insurance. In FY 2018, 14,094 claims and lawsuits against New York City were resolved for $1.0 billion. That's $1 billion of taxpayer funds that are being stripped away from essential services like education and public health — exhausting the racial inequality in our city — and instead used to pay for misconduct. Liability insurance premiums and claims can be split by the city and officer, who will likely not have the resources to pay for claims, leaving injured families unable to collect.
Strip the New York Police Department of its authority to issue press credentials and transfer the power to the Mayor's office.
Elevate false emergency calls to hate crimes with excessive fines if the perpetrator is found to have factored racial or sexual-orientation bias in calling the police against another citizen. (A version of this was passed by New York state)
Eliminate tear gas from our police's arsenal. Tear gas is not safe and can cause long-term respiratory issues that make it easier for humans to contract illnesses like COVID-19. Additionally, tear gas is banned in international warfare but allowed for domestic "riot control" uses. How does that make sense?
On the federal level, remove qualified immunity. That statute has protected officers from liability in impeding an individual's constitutional rights. In one case, officers were found immune to liability when they attempted to steal $225,000 when executing a search warrant.
Establish policies that require tamper-proof recordings of all police/civilian interactions, via body cams, that are available to the public. Bodycam programs should include regulations that they aren't used to surveil marginalized communities.
Increase the hiring of mental health professionals that ride-along with police addressing health checks. Those calls often have a violent conclusion because officers are ill-equipped to deal with citizens with mental health issues. The average officer receives only 8 hours of de-escalation training while receiving 58 hours of firearm training. More training is needed in this field while increasing the number of mental health professionals embedded with police officers.
This list of priorities is where we can start. With a little bit of courage and tenacity, we can implement policies that "bend the arc of the moral universe more towards justice" than we have before.
Moreover, our law enforcement officers must hear from us that we appreciate them and need them. They are an indispensable cog in communities across our country. When police officers carry out their mission of serving/protecting the citizenry, they display the courage and idolization that is often bestowed upon them for their acts of bravery that have saved so many.
We must also acknowledge that our police officers are often called upon to witness some of the worst incidents humanity has to offer. Those incidents — whether it be child abuse, rape, and murders — affect our officers' mental well-being. Witnessing those circumstances can lead to a post-traumatic stress disorder, and reaching out for assistance to cope with these issues has not been successful.
In New York City, the rate of suicides among NYPD officers is higher than for other city residents. According to some studies, as many as 34 percent of our officers suffer from symptoms reminiscent of PTSD. PTSD has severe adverse effects that can alter a person's behavior and well-being. Now imagine the consequences of not addressing those issues when law enforcement officials interact with civilians in a high-stress situation. The result can be deadly.
To offer support for our law enforcement officials, we need to implement the following:
Mandatory Mental Health Check-Ups. Our city has to fund programs that make it compulsory for our police officers to receive help on a schedule designated by their commanding officer to seek mental health professionals' assistance.
Substance abuse counseling. Many of our officers have sought substances to cope with the daily rigors of the role they serve. We must get rid of the stigma from within their ranks that question their toughness by seeking help when experiencing a traumatic event on the job.
Higher base-pay and establishing a bonus structure for good policing. These are dangerous jobs, and we want to welcome the best and brightest to serve within NYPD's ranks. We should restructure the salary to include higher wages and a performance-based bonus structure for good policing.