At a moment when our city is still reeling from the injustices done to Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and many others, we are disappointed that the Governor’s criminal justice reform agenda does not include meaningful steps towards ensuring police accountability.
There is an inherent conflict of interest whenever District Attorneys investigate the NYPD, which they rely upon and work with every day. In the vast majority of cases of police killings DAs do not convene grand juries. Assigning an independent monitor to review cases of police killings only after DAs have already convened grand juries and failed to secure indictments – with discretion about whether or not cases are transferred to a special prosecutor – does not address this underlying problem and runs the risk of further drawing out a painful process that families of victims endure.
The Governor has the opportunity to take real steps towards addressing this problem by enacting an executive order to assign power and responsibility to investigate and prosecute all cases of police killings and brutality to the New York State Attorney General immediately after they occur. He should also commit to work with New York policy makers to pass legislation to establish a permanent independent prosecutor for such cases.