City and state legislation would disqualify police guilty of misconduct in other departments from getting hired in New York
City Hall, NY – As part of the Council’s efforts to increase police accountability and reimagine public safety, Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Francisco Moya, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are introducing a bill that will ban the city from hiring police officers from other jurisdictions who were fired for misconduct or resigned while being investigated for misconduct. The bill requires the Department of Citywide Administrative Services – which set qualifications for civil service jobs – to add a line in the hiring code that automatically disqualifies these officers when they apply for the NYPD. There are already several disqualifications from becoming an NYPD officers, including domestic violence misdemeanors, dishonorable discharge 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. State Senator Brian Benjamin will introduce a companion bill in the State Senate, barring police departments in the state from hiring cops from other jurisdictions who were fired or resigned pending a misconduct investigation. 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. 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 do to prevent them from working as officers in our city,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.
“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. This is about protecting Black and Brown lives from police officers who have had 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,” said Council Member Francisco Moya.
“We need to restore and protect 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,” said Senator Brian Benjamin. “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.”
“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,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “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. I thank Speaker Johnson and Council Member Moya for advancing this bill and this issue. We have a great deal of work ahead to truly redefine public safety, but this week’s verdict in Minneapolis, and legislation like this bill, can hopefully provide some needed accountability.”