Late Friday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued another Executive Order, but unlike previous ones that have been issued since March 7, 2020, this Executive Order did not address the COVID-19 emergency. Instead, this new Executive Order seeks to tackle the issues of police brutality and racism in direct response to the protests that have arisen across the nation and in New York State following the police-involved killing of George Floyd.
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, entitled the “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative”, would require all local police departments and agencies in New York State, including the New York City Police Department, to develop a plan, based on community input, that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their respective community. A policing plan must be approved by April 1, 2021 and a jurisdiction with a local police department that fails to meet the April 1st deadline would risk losing its eligibility to receive any state funding for its police department. A copy of Executive Order 203.0 can be found here.
Executive Order 203 provides that the State Budget Director, in consultation with the Division of Criminal Justice Services, will promulgate guidance to be sent to all local governments directing the following:
- Review of Current Policies and Procedures: Each local government entity which has a police agency operating with police officers as defined under 1.20 of New York State’s Criminal Procedure Law must perform a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color;
- Development of Reform and Reinvention Plan: Each chief executive of such local government shall convene the head of the local police agency, and stakeholders in the community to develop such plan, which shall consider evidence-based policing strategies, including but not limited to, use of force policies, procedural justice; any studies addressing systemic racial bias or racial justice in policing; implicit bias awareness training; de-escalation training and practices; law enforcement assisted diversion programs; restorative justice practices; community-based outreach and conflict resolution; problem-oriented policing; hot spots policing; focused deterrence; crime prevention through environmental design; violence prevention and reduction interventions; model policies and guidelines promulgated by the New York State Municipal Police Training Council; and standards promulgated by the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program;
- Stakeholder Involvement, Input and Recommendations: The political subdivision, in coordination with its police agency, must consult with stakeholders, including but not limited to membership and leadership of the local police force; members of the community, with emphasis in areas with high numbers of police and community interactions; interested non-profit and faith-based community groups; the local office of the district attorney; the local public defender; and local elected officials, and create a plan to adopt and implement the recommendations resulting from its review and consultation, including any modifications, modernizations, and innovations to its policing deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, tailored to the specific needs of the community and general promotion of improved police agency and community relationships based on trust, fairness, accountability, and transparency, and which seek to reduce any racial disparities in policing;
- Public Comment and Legislative Ratification: Such plan shall be offered for public comment to all citizens in the locality, and after consideration of such comments, shall be presented to the local legislative body in such political subdivision, which shall ratify or adopt such plan by local law or resolution, as appropriate, no later than April 1, 2021;
- Confirmation of Adoption with New York State: Such local government shall transmit a certification to the Director of the Division of the Budget to affirm that such process has been complied with and such local law or resolution has been adopted;
- No Reform Plan, No State Funding for Local Police: The Director of the Division of the Budget shall be authorized to condition receipt of future appropriated state or federal funds upon filing of such certification for which such local government would otherwise be eligible; and
- Inter-Agency Cooperation: The Budget Director is authorized to seek the support and assistance of any state agency to effectuate these purposes.
In summary, by April 1, 2021, a jurisdiction with a local police force must adopt a plan, designed to modernize its force’s policing tactics that was developed with community input, and certify to New York State that they have:
- Engaged stakeholders in a public and open process on policing strategies and tools;
- Presented a plan, by chief executive and head of the local police force, to the public for comment;
- After consideration of any comments, presented such plan to the local legislative body (council or legislature as appropriate) which has approved such plan (by either local law or resolution); and
- If such local government does not ratify or adopt the plan by the April 1, 2021 deadline, the police force may be ineligible to receive future state funding.