In a curious coincidence of timing, there is a bill pending in the New York State legislature which they will have to send to the desk of Andrew Cuomo in the next couple of weeks for his signature or veto. The reason I say that the timing is curious is because the bill in question was passed before the shooting and grand jury decision involving the death of Eric Garner. The purpose of the bill, pushed by legislators who derive a lot of their funding from labor unions, would remove a lot of the control of disciplinary cases involving police officers from mayors and government officials and turn it over to the police unions.
The bill represents the latest in a series of attempts by police unions to nullify a unanimous 2006 state Court of Appeals decision, which affirmed the New York City police commissioner’s disciplinary authority.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association had sued then-Commissioner Ray Kelly for overriding disciplinary provisions in the police contract — including a rule requiring NYPD superiors to wait at least 48 hours before questioning police officers accused of misconduct.
Oddly, Mayor de Blasio’s Albany lobbying office didn’t bother to file a memo taking a position on the bill before it passed.
But the New York State Conference of Mayors went on the record in opposition — and for good reason.
The unions pushed for – and received – a host of goodies in this bill which should never see the light of day. That 48 hour rule is only the beginning of the list, but it’s certainly an awful idea. If you stop and think about it, what it means is that any questionable activity by an officer, no matter how egregious, will be beyond the ability of the administration or even the officer’s superiors on the force, to even ask questions about it until the unions have had 48 hours to circle the wagons and get their ducks in a row. Given the speed of the news cycle and social media these days, the result will be crippling, even if the officer is completely in the right. You can just imagine the mayor of any city standing before the cameras with his Chief of Police during the evening after a police shooting and stammering, I don’t know. I’m very sorry. I won’t be able to say anything until Wednesday because the unions won’t let me ask for any details regarding this tragic event.
Yeah… that should calm things down.
In addition to that, the bill would block towns and villages from passing their own laws superseding collectively-bargained police disciplinary provisions. This is a really top-down, comprehensive wish list for the unions, ensuring that nobody in the state at any level can challenge their supremacy. So how did something like this get passed in the first place?
The police-discipline bill was a classic under-the-radar, end-of-session special — an election-year favor to unions, brokered on the leadership level in both houses. It passed 57-2 in the Senate and 132-2 in the Assembly just before they adjourned in June. (Among those supporting the bill were all 42 of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus members present for the votes.)
Well, there’s a big surprise for you. New Yorkers keep electing the same set of clowns back to the Albany circus tent. Don’t act shocked when the entire state turns into a joke.