ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent a clear message to police departments statewide: You have 288 days to reform.
The governor outlined his New York State Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative initiative during his daily briefing on Wednesday.
Cuomo said the only way to turn outrage into action is with leadership. So, he has instructed local leaders to come up with a comprehensive reform plan for each municipality by April 1, 2021.
“I believe this is going to be transformational for the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “I believe it is the single best chance for real change real reform. Seize the moment — carpe momentum.”
He said the type of reform needed boils down to answering five questions:
- What will a department’s use-of-force policy look like?
- What will be the department’s staffing?
- What does “demilitarize” mean?
- What will be the department’s budget?
- What is your transparent disciplinary process?
“And we mean real reform. We mean start with a blank sheet of paper and come up with your vision for your public safety department in your community. What do you want it to be? And what do you want it not to be?” Cuomo said.
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The initiative comes in the wake of the police reform protests that have taken place across the United States since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody back on May 25.
Heading into Wednesday, protesters have marched and rallied in New York City for 20 consecutive days. The demonstrators have said they will not stop until they see real change, not just the few reforms that have been fast-tracked through the state Legislature.
Cuomo said this will be an even bigger step for cities and towns statewide.
“How do you want your police department to work in your community, in your city, in your county, and the collaborative means, elected officials, police officials, community activists – put everybody at the table and answer the questions,” Cuomo said. “Well, we have determined from this period of unrest and demonstration, from the beginning of which I said I stand with the protesters, we need to change. We need reform. Good. Second question. What change, what reform do you want? And how do we do it? That’s the intelligent progression of this moment, towards action.”
The governor cited the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School back in 2012, when a gunman shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children. There was nationwide outrage and calls for stricter gun control laws after that incident, but Cuomo said not much was done in the form of real change.
He said that won’t be the case in New York when it comes to police reform.
“They should have been turned the outrage into action,” Cuomo said, referring to the school shooting. “How do you turn outrage into action in society? By actually coming up with a new policy and making it a reality. But that starts with leadership. And it starts with leadership on the local level.
“Somebody stand up and lead.”