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“If you have the power and the privilege to enforce the law, you must be held to a higher standard,” New York State Senator Brian Benjamin said of officers
New York State Senator Brian Benjamin, City Council member Francisco Moya, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson have crafted a bill to prevent police officers who’ve been fired from getting hired again by departments in other jurisdictions.
“If you have the power and the privilege to enforce the law, you must be held to a higher standard. That standard has to include making sure that cops know that they can’t just do whatever they want to do,” Benjamin told CBS News.
Benjamin is sponsoring the bill which will be introduced at both the city and state levels. On Saturday, he joined Johnson, Moya, and Rev. Al Sharpton to speak at a National Action Network (NAC) event in Harlem.
“We have a police culture that is rooted in white supremacy and suppression and if we don’t use the law to root it out, and force accountability, it will never change,” Benjamin said during his address. Benjamin also cited the killing of Daunte Wright by now-former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter as an example of why the new rules are necessary. Potter, who worked for the Minnesota Police Department for 26 years, resigned in mid-April.
Under the legislation, police officers who’ve been fired in their jurisdictions cannot get hired again in the state of New York, neither can those who’ve resigned under disciplinary action, or who have pending criminal charges.
“These ‘wandering officers’ are twice as likely to commit physical and sexual misconduct. We simply cannot allow the hiring of bad apples and people convicted of crime,” said Johnson. Johnson also spoke to the need for a national database that tracks terminated officers.
A 2020 study published in the Yale Law Journal, which reviewed 98,000 police officers in Florida over a 30 year period, found that roughly 3 percent or 1,100 police officers in the state were fired in one jurisdiction and hired in another. That same study found that such “wandering officers” tend to move to communities with “smaller agencies, fewer resources, and with slightly larger communities of color,” researcher Bun Grunwald told the Washington Post.
A 2020 probe in the San Antonio Police Department also found that two-thirds of fired police officers in San Antonio, Texas have been hired again since 2010, according to KSAT.
At Saturday’s event, Sharpton applauded the bill put forth by Benjamin, Johnson and Moya.
“We’ve seen police officers fired from their posts for their actions, and then go work for the police force in another jurisdiction. This is not right,” said Sharpton, according to CBS News. “In this moment, following the trial of George Floyd, New York needs to stand up and legislate, and that’s what these leaders are doing.”
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