Bill S811-2013

Creates a state commission to investigate patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel

Creates a state commission to investigate patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel in NYS; provides that the commission shall consist of 9 members including 5 members appointed by chief judge of the court of appeals and 4 members appointed by legislative leaders.

Details

Actions

  • Jan 9, 2013: REFERRED TO FINANCE

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S811

TITLE OF BILL: An act creating a state commission to investigate patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel in New York state

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this bill is to create and empower a commission to conduct a comprehensive investigation of misconduct, abuse of power and political interference with respect to law enforcement personnel within the state and report to the legislature on structural changes that can be made to reform the institution.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The Commission shall consist of nine members to be appointed as follows: Five members, including the chair, shall be appointed by the chief judge of the New York state court of appeals; one member each shall be appointed by the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, the minority leader of the senate and the minority leader of the assembly. The members of the commission shall be either former judges or distinguished professionals with significant law enforcement experience. Substantial consideration shall be given to individuals who are experienced former members of the state police.

The Commission may request and shall receive from any court in the state and from any subdivision, department, board, bureau, commission, officer agency or other instrumentality of the state or of any political subdivision thereof such facilities, assistance and data as it deems necessary or desirable for the proper execution of its powers and duties and to effectuate the purposes set forth in this act. It will be obligated to produce a report to the legislature within 180 days of its formation that recommends policy and practice changes that can be made to reform the institution, and free the state police from future political interference or coercion.

To the extent that evidence of criminal behavior is uncovered by the investigation undertaken by the commission, the commission shall refer such matters to the appropriate prosecutorial authority.

JUSTIFICATION: This legislation is necessitated by a troubling pattern throughout three different gubernatorial administrations of inappropriate and possibly unlawful behavior by law enforcement personnel within New York State, largely emanating from the Executive Services Detail. Most recently, this behavior took the form of possible intimidation of a female victim involved in a domestic violence dispute with a high ranking member of the Paterson Administration. While this specific incident is being investigated, under the administrations of the two previous governors there were several documented instances where state troopers were also subject to improper political influence and used in ways that undermine the very fabric of our democracy.

In 2007, a scandal erupted involving former Governor Eliot Spitzer's use of state troopers to monitor and gather travel information about former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno for purposes of trying to discredit a political adversary. Under the Pataki Administration, the state police were found to have electronically discarded a domestic dispute complaint involving a political ally, former Rep. John Sweeney, in order to shield him from public scrutiny and embarrassment. These are just two of several occurrences that have already been documented by the Office of the New York State Attorney General.

The proposed commission is fashioned in part after the Knapp Commission which investigated police corruption in the 1970's and the Mollen Commission which investigated police brutality and corruption in the 1990's, The role of the state trooper is to protect and serve the public. It is not to protect and serve the political interests of the Governor or administration in power. The proposed temporary commission will undertake to determine what has gone wrong during the administration of three different governors and recommend concrete measures the legislature can implement to restore institutional integrity and accountability to the state police.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2010: S.708S/A.10199 - Held in Senate Finance Committee 2011: S.3570A

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: To be determined.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 811 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. ADAMS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Finance AN ACT to establish a state commission to investigate patterns and prac- tices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel in the state THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative findings. The legislature hereby finds and declares as follows: The legislation is necessitated by a troubling pattern and practice throughout at least three different gubernatorial administrations of inappropriate and possibly unlawful behavior by law enforcement person- nel in this state, largely emanating from the executive services detail of the division of state police. Most recently, this behavior took the form of possible intimidation of a female victim involved in a domestic violence dispute with a high ranking member of the Paterson adminis- tration. While this specific incident is being investigated, under the administrations of the two previous governors, there were several docu- mented instances where state troopers were also subject to improper political influence and used in ways that undermine the very fabric of our democracy. By way of example, in 2007, a scandal erupted involving former gover- nor Eliot Spitzer's use of state troopers to monitor and gather travel information about former temporary president of the senate Joseph Bruno for purposes of trying to discredit a political adversary. Under the Pataki administration, the division of state police was found to have electronically cleansed a domestic dispute complaint involving a poli- tical ally and former congressmember John Sweeney, in order to shield him from public scrutiny and embarrassment. These are just two of several occurrences that have already been documented by the department
of law. It is the intent of this legislation to provide for the inde- pendent and comprehensive investigation of this pattern and practice, and recommend steps the legislature can implement to reform law enforce- ment practices in the state. S 2. A state commission is hereby established to investigate certain patterns and practices of unlawful or inappropriate conduct on the part of members of law enforcement personnel in the state including, but not limited to the executive services detail of the division of state police, that result from inappropriate or coercive political interfer- ence. S 3. The commission shall consist of nine members to be appointed as follows: five members, including the chair, shall be appointed by the chief judge of the court of appeals; one member each shall be appointed by the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, the minority leader of the senate and the minority leader of the assem- bly. The members of the commission shall be either former judges or distinguished professionals with significant law enforcement experience. Substantial consideration shall be given to individuals who are experi- enced former members of law enforcement agencies in the state. The members of the commission shall be appointed within thirty days after the effective date of this act. S 4. The members of the commission shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be allowed their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties hereunder. S 5. The commission may employ and at pleasure remove such personnel as it may deem necessary for the performance of its functions and fix their compensation within the amounts made available by appropriation therefor. Such commission may meet and hold public and/or private hear- ings within or without the state, and shall have all the powers of a legislative committee pursuant to the legislative law, including the power to issue subpoenas. S 6. For the accomplishment of its purposes, the commission shall be authorized and empowered to undertake any studies, inquiries, surveys or analyses it may deem relevant through its own personnel or in cooper- ation with or by agreement with any other public or private agency. S 7. The commission may request and shall receive from any court in the state and from any subdivision, department, board, bureau, commis- sion, office, agency or other instrumentality of the state or of any political subdivision thereof such facilities, assistance and data as it deems necessary or desirable for the proper execution of its powers and duties and to effectuate the purposes set forth in this act. S 8. To the extent that evidence of criminal behavior is uncovered by the investigation undertaken by the commission, the commission shall refer such matters to the appropriate prosecutorial authority. S 9. The commission shall make a report of its findings, including any recommendations for systematic changes, as it may deem necessary and appropriate, to the governor, the temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly no later than one hundred eighty days after the effective date of this act and then every one hundred eighty days thereafter. S 10. This act shall take effect immediately.

Comments

Open Legislation comments facilitate discussion of New York State legislation. All comments are subject to moderation. Comments deemed off-topic, commercial, campaign-related, self-promotional; or that contain profanity or hate speech; or that link to sites outside of the nysenate.gov domain are not permitted, and will not be published. Comment moderation is generally performed Monday through Friday.

By contributing or voting you agree to the Terms of Participation and verify you are over 13.

Discuss!

blog comments powered by Disqus