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NY AG Unveils Police Use Of Force Legislation

An Albany Police vehicle
Dave Lucas/WAMC

New York Attorney General Letitia James introduced new legislation Friday that would change the state’s standards regarding the use of force by police. Currently, New York state does not require police officers to first exhaust de-escalation tactics or verbal warnings before using force, including lethal force. The Democrat says the Police Accountability Act would restrict officers to using lethal force only as a last resort.

“It will ensure that lethal force is deemed appropriate only when a threat is truly imminent, which is what officers are already taught, and is already outlined in their patrol guide," James said. So this is an attempt to codify that which exists in an officer’s patrol guide.”

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Kevin Parker and State Assemblyman Nick Perry, both Democrats, would prohibit officers from using the suspicion of criminal activity to justify lethal force. It also establishes standards and criminal penalties for officers who use excessive force.

"Even if it's determined that an officer is justified in using some force, if they are found to have used far more force than is necessary, they can potentially face a new criminal charge," the AG said. "And the severity of that crime depends upon the circumstances and depends upon the injuries caused." 

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