Proposed legislation in NY seeks to make use of force by police in NY 'last resort'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Newly proposed legislation seeks to bring sweeping reforms to the way police in New York carry out law enforcement, including making the use of force a 'last resort.'

New York Attorney General Letitia James says current laws set too high of a standard for prosecuting officers who abuse the use of force.

"The Police Accountability Act will make critical and necessary changes to the law, providing clear and legitimate standards for when the use of force is acceptable and enacting real consequences for when an officer crosses that line," James said.

James says current law does not require officers to exhaust other methods, such as de-escalation, verbal warnings, or lower level uses of force, before using force.

The Police Accountability Act would reverse this and would also allow prosecutors to evaluate if police conduct led to a need for the use of force, something they're currently not able to do.

It would also no longer allow police to justify lethal force simply by saying an officer suspected someone of a crime.

The legislation would also establish criminal penalties for officers to help prevent the excessive use of force.

Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York President Pat Lynch criticized the proposed changes.

"This sweeping proposal would make it impossible for police officers to determine whether or not we are permitted to use force in a given situation. The only reasonable solution will be to avoid confrontations where force might become necessary. Meanwhile, violent criminals certainly aren't hesitating to use force against police officers or our communities. The bottom line: more cops and more regular New Yorkers are going to get hurt," Lynch said.

The bill is being sponsored by State Senator Kevin Parker and by Assemblymember N. Nick Perry.

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