The brutal killing of George Floyd has rattled the country. Ever since video cameras captured the beating of Rodney King back in 1991, we have seen countless people of color killed by police officers. These deaths sicken me and make me angry, as they do much of our country. We have had enough. The question is how do we transform this anger into positive change? For far too long, our priorities have been upside down. We have to scale back the NYPD. We need to rethink the role and responsibilities of police officers to focus on violent crime. We need new non-police services to deal with many of our neighborhood needs and societal ills. We have given our police far too much power over the city. Every noise complaint, traffic complaint, school issue, or family member with a mental health crisis, results in a 911 call forwarded to the NYPD. This is a recipe for disaster. Sending someone with a gun to settle petty disputes or mental health issues doesn’t make sense. Since the 1980’s the police have been used as a potential solution for every problem. The NYPD has grown into an octopus with tentacles in every part of our lives. We need to amputate some of the arms.

  • There are 5,000 uniformed NYPD officers assigned to our schools and reporting to the NYPD. In contrast, the DOE has only 2,880 guidance counselors. Safety issues in schools should be dealt with by school employees, who best understand the needs of their students. The savings can be used for guidance counselors and teachers. I’ve been fighting for years to get the NYPD out of our public schools.
  • Currently, the NYPD responds to calls for people suffering mental health crises. We need a mental health crisis team responding to calls for help rather than the NYPD. This is a medical issue and should be run out of our public hospital emergency rooms.
  • We refuse to provide healthcare for all, denying neighbors basic mental health support, but we run the largest mental health clinic in New York City out of Rikers Island. We need to build a mental health system responsive to all levels of need from counseling, to mediation to supportive housing.
  • The Department of Transportation should handle traffic-related issues. Traffic agents should not work for the NYPD.

When the pandemic hit and budgets had to be slashed, education spending in NYC was cut by over 700 million dollars. The NYPD’s 6 billion dollar budget is larger than Homeless Services, Youth and Community Development, Housing Preservation and Development, and health budgets combined. This is outrageous especially since crime rates have drastically dropped. And DeBlasio wants to add 2300 new police officers to enforce social distancing. Individuals need to think before calling 911 as each call has serious ramifications. We need to take personal responsibility. Let’s make sure we only call for serious issues. As an independent Assembly Member in Albany, I will bring all of our voices to tackle these difficult issues. The first thing that I will vote on is the repeal of The New York State Civil Rights Law Section 50-a. Section 50-a makes all personnel records of policemen, firefighters, and correction officers confidential and not subject to inspection or review except by court order. I will fight to increase police accountability and transparency. This week has been incredibly painful. We’re angry, frustrated and many of us are still dealing with the fallout from COVID-19. We must continue to stand together and support each other.

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