The New York City Council passed a package of police reforms on Thursday. Some of the legislation lingered for years, only to get fast tracked amid protests against police brutality, CBS New York reports. There was outrage after Eric Garner’s death at the hands of the NYPD in 2014, but it wasn’t until George Floyd faced a similar fate hundreds of miles away that it struck a much deeper nerve in NYC.
“Some of us voted a few years ago for additional police officers. Some of these bills should have moved quickly. I want to apologize for that and not make up excuses,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said Thursday.
During a Zoom meeting, the City Council passed a variety of police reforms. Among them, a requirement of officers to show their badge numbers. Council members said some decided to hide them as tensions mounted during the protests.
Also, a disciplinary matrix will be created to make sure it’s clear what the consequences are for certain offenses.
And a chokehold ban that goes even further than the one passed by state lawmakers.
“It prohibits an officer from sitting, kneeling or standing on a suspect’s chest or back in the course of effecting an arrest,” Councilman Rory Lancman said.
The sense of urgency comes in direct response to protests that have now lasted three weeks, with no clear signs of letting up.
During the process, the Public Safety Committee heard from the NYPD about its concerns regarding certain aspects of the reforms, but Council members did not modify the legislation many say is long overdue.
“There’s a lack of transparency, accountability, and fairness that pervades the New York City Police Department and it encourages a culture of brutality and abuse,” Public Safety Committee Chairman Donovan Richards said.
The reforms also come as the city looks to cut police funding by possibly $1 billion, a clear departure from past budgets since Garner’s untimely death, when the Council voted to add more cops to the streets.
“There was a need to raise the head count so that we could have a unit of neighborhood coordination officers that could be taken off of patrol, off of radio runs, and really focused in their particular sectors so they had time to build relationships,” Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson said.
With a renewed will, Council members said the reforms are a small step, showing the power the collective can have when joining their voices to protest.