Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Cutout Photo: Elvert Barnes / CC BY-SA 2.0ALBANY – A decades-old law that kept law enforcement officers’ disciplinary records secret in New York appeared to be headed for an overhaul this week as state lawmakers moved to act on a number of police accountability measures prompted by street demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.The state law, known by its section title, 50-a, was passed in the 1970s to prevent criminal defense attorneys from subjecting officers to cross-examinations about irrelevant information in their personnel file. The law applies to jail guards and firefighters, as well.But over the years, the law also draped a veil over most records of alleged police misconduct. Formal complaints about excessive force by officers are not public in New York. In recent years, police departments have cited the law in refusing to say even whether officers have been punished.The Democrat-led Legislature planned to pass a repeal this week and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he intends to sign it, noting that such records are already available for other government employees, such as teachers and toll takers. “Their records will be available,” Cuomo said. “It is just parity and equality with every other public employee.”The leaders of a coalition of police unions argued in a statement Monday that releasing such records, including complaints, could leave officers facing “unavoidable and irreparable harm to reputation and livelihood.”The legislation would provide officers with some privacy protections, including redaction of home addresses, personal phone numbers and email addresses.The legislation was among a package of police accountability bills that began to move through the legislature Monday, and some of which were passed. The state Senate and Assembly passed legislation that bans police chokeholds, guarantees the right to record police activity and collects more data on deaths in custody.Another bill that makes it easier to file civil lawsuits against people who call 911 and falsely accuse someone of criminal activity based only on their race or background also passed.A vote on opening police disciplinary records could come as soon as Tuesday.Meanwhile, the protests that sparked the reform push continued around New York City on Monday, and organizers urged people to stay in the streets.Protest organizer Carlos Polanco was cheered by hundreds at Washington Square Park as he asked for further change, including diverting funding from the city’s police department to the school system, social workers and programs that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment.“This is the closest we’ve ever been” to lasting reforms, he said, but added “we don’t want crumbs. We want all of it.”Later in the day, Polanco urged a crowd gathered at Gracie Mansion to call their senators and demand that the state’s police records law be repealed Tuesday.Civil liberty and criminal justice reform groups have long pushed for a repeal of the law, but that effort got new momentum amid huge protests over Floyd’s death and images of violent confrontations between officers and demonstrators.Only New York and Delaware have state laws that provide law enforcement “with special carve outs from records disclosure,” according to a statement from advocacy groups including Common Cause New York and the New York Public Interest Research Group.“What’s become increasingly clear over the past few days is how much a lack of transparent accountability measures leads to police acting with impunity in our communities,” said Michael Sisitzky, lead policy counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union.“We’ve seen police officers drive cars into crowds of protesters and pull down a person’s face mask in order to pepper spray them,” Sisitzky said. “We’ve seen lawmakers arrested and pepper-sprayed while attempting to mediate.”Critics of the repeal include Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan — a former sheriff in Erie County, home to the state’s second largest city, Buffalo — who noted the overwhelming number of complaints against officers are deemed unfounded.“I think people are calling for a reform that doesn’t get at any of the problems that we face as a society,” Gallivan said in an interview.The law gained widespread attention in 2016, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio argued it prevented the release of disciplinary records of the police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.Garner’s death — after he refused to be handcuffed for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes — came at a time of a growing public outcry over police killings of unarmed black men that gave impetus to the national Black Lives Matter movement.Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, last year urged Cuomo and New York state lawmakers to repeal a law that she has said “is harming me and my family.”
He said he tells them if they are with their family in a car and someone is following them, they should ask themselves: “What are we going to do to prevent them trying to stop the car?”“Do as the footballers did? Get out and confront them or dial the police, or beep the horn to bring attention to yourselves.“Or drive to the nearest police station or to a garage forecourt where there is CCTV?“It is knowing that. You have got to start somewhere and I believe footballers are not being given the right advice.”Bomberg says he believes one of the reasons for such attitudes is a lack of understanding of the concept of security.“I think that security for a lot of people is a dirty word,” he said.“They think of an old bloke falling asleep in his hut or some guy wearing a yellow vest.”Bomberg’s basic entry package costs a cool £400,000 ($490,000) and uses close protection officers who are normally ex-special forces or policemen.He said the approach of International Intelligence Limited, which he founded in 2002, was high-tech.“We can put a technical fence round your property.“If someone is outside and tweeting ‘I am going to (expletive) kill him’ they don’t need to mention the name as that will still flag up to us because they are using profanity and a threat within that ‘geo-fenced’ area.”Bomberg is unsure where the duty of care for football clubs ends.“I think the whole football business industry needs to wake up,” he said. “These men and women are the assets of the club.“Okay the club might have the bricks and mortar of the stadium but these people are the celebrities and what the sponsors are paying for.“If you have a vehicle worth half a million pounds would you leave it parked randomly somewhere in London?“They need to start to realise they have a legal duty of care, a responsibility not just to footballers but to families.”Share on: WhatsApp English football need to wake up to the threat to footballers and their families security in the wake of the attack on Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac security expert Alex Bomberg told AFPStroud, United Kingdom | AFP | English football clubs will only wake up to the security risks their players face when either one of them or a member of their family are maimed or killed, a security expert told AFP.The stark warning from former soldier Alex Bomberg comes after Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were targeted in a carjacking attack by knife-wielding men on mopeds in London in July.The fallout from that incident resulted in the duo being left out of the opening Premier League fixture with Newcastle due to “further security incidents”.Bomberg, founder and CEO of Intelligent (UK Holdings) Limited, is responsible for the personal protection of nine footballers in Spain and France but says he has had no approaches from England-based players even since the incident involving German star Ozil and Bosnian international Kolasinac.He said he was surprised that super-rich Premier League players and clubs were underestimating the threat.“Footballers are more exposed in the United Kingdom, far more exposed,” the former aide to the British royal family told AFP at his office in Gloucestershire in the west of England.“I think we have a serious problem in the UK and it does surprise me how we look at it.“This is a really serious subject which needs proper attention and I can tell you what will happen; nothing will change dramatically until a footballer or member of his family either is seriously injured or killed.”Bomberg, who says he has been contacted by other players in mainland Europe since the Arsenal stars were attacked, believes footballers and their families are especially vulnerable.“I came across newspaper clippings from 2009 where they were talking about 21 robberies of British players’ homes in a three-year period,” he said.“That is 2009 so where are we now? We are nearly 2020, we were talking about it 10 years ago and it is still a problem today.He said elite footballers were particularly vulnerable because their movements are so widely known.“It’s advertised when footballers are away from home because they are playing football. Straight away that leaves them exposed.”The Ozil incident received widespread coverage because Kolasinac fought off the assailants, but Bomberg says that was the wrong way to respond.“He did what many young guys would do but he put himself and his friend (Ozil) in danger,” said Bomberg.“It could have ended in a very different way, we know how many people get stabbed in London every day.”– ‘Protecting clubs’ assets’ –Bomberg, whose clients also include celebrities, members of foreign royal families, lawyers and bankers — he will not divulge their identities — says he teaches clients how to deal with such incidents.