New York State Troopers’ union questions Attorney General’s call for systemic reform

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association (NYSTPBA)—the workers’ union representing state police—is taking issue with the state’s Attorney General—often referred to as the “top cop”—pushing for police reform.

On Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James held a press conference announcing that a grand jury declined to charge the police officers involved in the 2020 death of Daniel Prude in Rochester. “The current laws on deadly force have created a system that utterly and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many others before him,” James said on Tuesday.

“Serious reform is needed, not only at the Rochester Police Department, but to our criminal justice system as a whole,” she continued. “I will be pursuing a multifaceted approach to address the very issues that have prevented us from holding officers accountable when they improperly use deadly force. I am committed to effecting the change that is so desperately needed, and I will be unshakeable in my efforts to see it through.”

A statement from NYSTPBA says the union is “deeply troubled” by the attorney general’s “belittling” comments:

The NYSTPBA takes exception to the Attorney General’s use of the Daniel Prude report as a bully pulpit to legislate through her position as the top law enforcement official in the state. In her remarks, Attorney General James presented worrisome theories about the use of deadly physical force by law enforcement as a whole as well as unsettling objectives to undermine the core of the grand jury system.

The union says that state troopers take painstaking efforts to defuse violent situations. In fact, NYSTPBA President Thomas H. Mungeer said, “In a world of split-second decisions, many times an individual, through his or her actions, removes all other possibilities of de-escalation which results in the law enforcement officer having to use deadly physical force in order to protect the public and first responders.”

During the press conference, James said she was bound to respect the grand jury’s decision, but she also condemned a system that she said had “frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of African Americans.”

Mungeer scoffs at what NYSTPBA called a recommendation from James to relax grand jury secrecy rules. “Why does the Attorney General feel that she has to move the goal post when faced—in her opinion—with an adverse decision?” he said. “The sanctity and secrecy of the grand jury process is embedded in our laws and we hope that knee-jerk reactions won’t crack the foundation upon which our criminal justice system is based.”

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