Days after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd, city and state officials plan to introduce a similar bills that would prevent police officers who’ve been fired or disciplined from joining any other department in the state.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson made the announcement at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem on Saturday. Flanked by Queens Councilmember Francisco Moya and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Johnson said the bill would update the city’s hiring policy, declaring police officers from other jurisdictions who have been fired or who left the job while facing a misconduct investigation will not work for the NYPD. At the Saturday morning event, Johnson said “wandering officers”—police officers who are seeking work elsewhere—will not work for the NYPD if the legislation is passed.
“These ‘wandering officers’ are twice as likely to commit physical and sexual misconduct,” Johnson said before guests at NAN’s headquarters. “We simply cannot allow the hiring of bad apples and people convicted of crime.”
Joining the city lawmakers was state Senator Brian Benjamin of Harlem, who proposed similar state legislation that would bar any officer fired for misconduct from joining any other police department in the state. In a statement, Benjamin said the intent of the bill is to “restore and protect the trust” between communities and officers duty-bound to protect them.
“We can’t do that if we have people serving as police officers who other cities or states have determined are not fit for duty,” Benjamin said in a statement. “Once we enact this bill into law on the city and state level, we can be sure that we are not empowering people who have a history of abusing their positions. This bill will increase transparency around policing and protect the public from abusive officers, increasing public safety for all.”
The city already has policies that attempt to weed out bad NYPD applicants, including those who were convicted of domestic violence, were dishonorably discharged by the military, or have felony convictions.
“We’re already dealing with the challenges of officers policing our communities that they don’t reside in. We need to force our officers to live in the very neighborhoods that they police,” Moya, joining Johnson, said.
Currently, just over half of uniformed NYPD patrol officers lives outside the city and in areas of the state they can reside in, including Nassau, Westchester, Suffolk, Orange, Rockland or Putnam counties, figures released to Gothamist/WNYC last summer showed.
The Council bill, which will be introduced next week, builds upon major police reforms enacted by the Council in recent months. Among them includes a disciplinary matrix guide that outlines disciplinary recommendations for officers found to have committed official misconduct. The city has also released the disciplinary records of tens of thousands of police officers accused or have committed misconduct going back to 2014.
The Mayor’s Office declined to comment on the legislation.