Police union officials demand overhaul of New York bail laws

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Police union officials demand overhaul of New York bail laws
Law enforcement union representatives gathered to demand an overhaul to New York State bail and discovery laws, enacted as part of multiple reforms the past two years. (Photo courtesy of Corbett Public Relations)

A few days before the elections, a dozen law enforcement unions demanded an overhaul of New York state laws on bail and discovery. 

The issue was prominent in the race for Nassau County district attorney, in which Republican Anne Donnelly defeated state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat, who had voted for an overhaul of state bail laws that eliminated pretrial detention and monetary bail conditions for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

The law enforcement unions argued that even though the state Legislature subsequently made changes in the law, it still was allowing dangerous criminals to be released.

At a news conference on Oct. 29, the representative of the law enforcement unions said a recent decision in Suffolk County Court that struck down part of the law showed that the entire bail reform package needed to be overhauled.

On Oct. 22, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said that a law that allows criminal defendants to move for a court order granting them access to crime scenes, including an individual’s home, had been deemed unconstitutional. Sini said the victim in the case would have had Fourth Amendment rights, the expectation of privacy, violated. 

At the news conference, John Wighaus, president of the Nassau County Detectives’ Association,  said: “The decision that has been reported recently regarding the unconstitutionality of a portion of the ‘discovery law,’ points out the complete failure of the entire package of extreme ‘bail and discovery’ laws that were passed in Albany. In particular, the ‘cashless bail’ law has been disastrous for law abiding citizens.” 

Supporters of bail reform had argued that the system of cash bail fell heaviest on the poor and members of minority groups who could not afford to post bail. 

But at the news conference, Brian Sullivan, president of the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association, said: “Our judges are powerless to detain the majority of dangerous suspects because of the ‘cashless bail’ law.  The courts are forced to turn loose dangerous inmates who are free to wreak more havoc on the community after their release.  Something has to be done.”

The law enforcement unions endorsed Donnelly in the district attorney race.

 

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