O’Donnell Statement on Passage of His Bill Repealing 50-a

NEW YORK-“Today is a monumental day for justice. For too long, 50-a has shielded law enforcement officials from accountability when they commit wrongdoing. For too long, we have allowed 50-a to erode the trust between police officers and communities, particularly communities of color. Today, the New York State Legislature passed my bill repealing 50-a and opened a new chapter for New York State that increases trust, transparency, accountability, and safety for all. I thank the advocates, Senate Sponsor Bailey, Speaker Heastie, and members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus for their support in passing this critical legislation.

When I introduced legislation to repeal 50-a in 2016, it was already clear that this outdated statute prevented sorely needed transparency and accountability for law enforcement. The murder of George Floyd last month echoed the murders of Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, and far too many more, and once again revealed the failures of our criminal justice system. New Yorkers have spoken loud and clear over the past two weeks, providing a clarion call that now is the time to act. By passing the repeal of 50-a today, we allow the public, press, and the victims of misconduct and their families to find answers, and we give New Yorkers the tools to prevent further tragedies from happening.

We are in the middle of a long overdue conversation about systemic racism in our State and our Nation, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. It is clear that we have to make serious, systemic changes to truly protect communities of color. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ The repeal of 50-a and the police reform package passed by the New York State Legislature this week brings us one step closer to a safer, more just society for all.”