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How New York Is Restricting Police Tactics


Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high in the mid-70s.

Alternate-side parking: Suspended through Sunday.

Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Banning police chokeholds. Publicly disclosing police disciplinary records. Codifying the right to record video of police activity.

Advocates in New York sought these changes for years. In the past week, they were all signed into law by Andrew M. Cuomo, who has been governor of New York since 2011.

Mr. Cuomo signed the bills after nearly three weeks of protests following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by the police in Minneapolis.

Jesse McKinley, The Times’s bureau chief in Albany, explains these laws and how Governor Cuomo has responded to calls for change.

[New York became one of the first states to make major changes in police practices in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.]

First, police use of a chokehold is now a criminal offense in the New York Police Department and other departments. Previously, police department rules barred use of the technique, but now an officer who uses the chokehold is committing a felony.

Also, police disciplinary records can now be accessed upon request. So, if an officer is involved in a shooting or some other questionable action, the public will be able to see whether that officer has been the subject of any past complaints. That may help add context to our understanding of the incident.

And now with the right to record police activity signed into law, there is protection for witnesses and bystanders who make videos.

You could say both. During Mr. Cuomo’s nine-plus years in office, he has shown an ability to jump on news and get laws enacted as a result.

Keep in mind, he doesn’t make the laws. The Legislature had already drafted the bills. After the killing of George Floyd on May 25, there was new momentum to get them passed. Mr. Cuomo, seeing which way the wind was blowing, said he supported the measures, too. So, in a way, the Legislature acted very quickly and the governor embraced their action very quickly.

But before Mr. Floyd’s killing and the protests, these changes were not part of Mr. Cuomo’s agenda for the year.

Proposals to legalize marijuana, release older inmates early and end solitary confinement could gain more traction now.

And action could occur at any time. Traditionally the Legislature is in session from January to June. But members could get called back into session at any moment.

Residents in one neighborhood in Brooklyn are trying to raise money to pay for a private security patrol in their area. [Brooklyn Paper]

From the weekly Modern Love column:

It doesn’t take a Modern Love column to tell you that relationships can flourish — or wither — in times of stress. Add months of isolation, the physical and emotional toll of a pandemic, followed by global protests, and this period we’re living through has the capacity to reshape relationships on a broad scale.

Modern Love wanted to know how people who are living together — romantically or otherwise — have fared with so much time together. Will this era be more about the costs of claustrophobia or the deepening of love? What about the fights? The annoying habits? The romance? The chaos?

Kelly Sterling, 32, who lives with her husband, Randy, in Brooklyn, shared her story. She wrote:

Before entering this quarantine, my husband and I suffered a miscarriage. I had a dilation and curettage procedure a week before New York City shut down. We had to adjust quickly to our new reality: staying home, losing a pregnancy and my husband getting laid off. I had a hard time sleeping. I’d wake up at 3 a.m. on the couch. My husband would find me in the morning and we’d just sit there, holding each other.

My husband is resilient. I would snap at him for being positive about the future or hopeful that we will get pregnant again, feeling like it was too soon. I realized that’s just him, though. Positivity is how he grieves.

The last couple of months have allowed us time to grieve in a way we normally wouldn’t have. I was scheduled to return to work a few days after the procedure.

[Read 17 more stories from our readers here.]

We started having conversations with our families and friends, opening up about what had happened. People told us stories of their own losses and their friends’ losses. Even though we were stuck at home, we felt love and support from the outside world. Randy and I have come a long way during this time — now, we accept our loss as part of our story.

It’s Monday — stay resilient.

Dear Diary:

I lived in Yonkers in the 1980s, and every day I drove to and from my office in New York City.

One Friday night, I pulled into the tollbooth at the Henry Hudson Bridge, handed the female toll taker a $5 bill and stared blankly out the windshield waiting for my change.

After waiting for what seemed like a minute longer than usual, I looked up to see the toll taker holding my change and looking down.

“That tie does not go with that shirt,” she said in a loud and deliberate voice.

It occurred to me that my wife had said something similar that morning.

“My wife said the same thing,” I replied.

The woman handed me my change.

“Well,” she said, “you should have listened to her.”

— Rich Tomasulo

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