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Queens councilman unveils legislation designed to weed out bad cops

Councilman Francisco Moya announces new legislation at the National Action Network that would prevent "bad cops" from joining the NYPD. (Courtesy of Gerardo Romo/NYC Council)

New legislation that would keep rogue cops from joining the NYPD was unveiled by Queens Councilman Francisco Moya over the weekend.

Moya joined Council Speaker Corey Johnson to announce their new bill that would increase police accountability and reimagine public safety. It would ban the city from hiring police officers from other jurisdictions who were fired for misconduct or who resigned while being investigated for misconduct.

The bill requires the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which sets qualifications for civil service jobs, to add a line in the hiring code that automatically disqualifies these police officers when they apply for the NYPD. There are already several disqualifications from becoming an NYPD officer, including domestic violence misdemeanors, dishonorable discharges from the military and felony convictions.

While transfers to the NYPD are not common, the goal of this legislation is to make sure that no one with a history of misconduct finds their way into the city’s police force.

“Every step we can take towards dismantling systemic racism is an action towards meaningful police reform. The bill I’m introducing is a step to keep the bad apples from multiplying — if an officer is let go because of disciplinary issues, regardless of jurisdiction, they will be ineligible for NYPD service,” Moya said. “This is about protecting Black and brown lives from police officers who have a history of misconduct. With this bill, New York City can be an example of vigorous and positive action so Black lives are no longer in danger.”

Officers who are fired from one department only to get hired by another, known as wandering officers, are more likely to receive misconduct complaints and get fired again compared to other officers, according to a 2020 report in the Yale Law Journal.

“All it takes is one bad cop to make a fatal mistake, shatter a family and destroy the trust people have in all police,” Johnson said. “Sadly, we’ve seen too many police misconduct cases across the country, and many times these so-called wandering officers land in other departments. We don’t want them in the NYPD, and we must do everything we can to prevent them from working as officers in our city.”

Harlem state Senator Brian Benjamin will introduce a companion bill in Albany after he was inspired by the shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. Kim Potter, the 26-year veteran who resigned after allegedly shooting Wright, would be ineligible to work as a member of law enforcement across New York under the legislation.

“We need to restore the trust between our communities and the individuals sworn to protect them. We can’t do that if we have people serving as police officers who other cities or states have determined are not fit for duty,” Benjamin said. “Once we enact this bill into law on the city and state level, we can be sure that we are not empowering people who have a history of abusing their positions. This bill will increase transparency around policing and protect the public from abusive officers, increasing public safety for all.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is pushing for the new police reform legislation.

“Right now, an officer could be fired in Minnesota for misconduct and find a job waiting for them down at 1 Police Plaza. Kim Potter, who killed Daunte Wright, could be submitting her resume,” Williams said. “That’s nonsensical, and the legislation we announced today will close this loophole to accountability by adding to the list of prohibiting factors for officers, preventing the hiring of police from other jurisdictions who were fired or resigned because of misconduct.”

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