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Hochul: All 532 eligible NYS police agencies receive state certification for officer employment as required by Professional Policing Act of 2021


Mon, Oct 16th 2023 03:45 pm

Certification demonstrates ‘these municipal, authority, state and railroad police agencies follow comprehensive state hiring standards for police officers and meet requirements to report misconduct and employment information’

√ Each of the agencies obtained certification as required in advance of statutory deadline

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced 532 police agencies in New York – 100% of all eligible agencies – have received state certification for compliance as required by the Professional Policing Act of 2021. This certification “demonstrates that these municipal, authority, railroad and state police agencies follow comprehensive state hiring standards for police officers and requirements to report misconduct and employment information to state agencies.” Each of these agencies obtained certification as required in advance of today’s statutory deadline.

“Public safety is my top priority, and I'm committed to providing law enforcement in New York with the tools they need to successfully do their jobs,” Hochul said. “We'll continue working with our partners in law enforcement to ensure every community in New York is safe and treated with dignity.”

Hochul’s team said, “The Professional Policing Act took effect on Oct. 16, 2021, strengthening state oversight of police departments and sheriffs’ offices with the goal of ensuring that individuals employed as police officers are qualified, of good moral character, and physically and psychologically fit to do the job. Before the law’s enactment, agencies had their own hiring standards, resulting in inconsistent practices and criteria for employment across jurisdictions. The state did not mandate that agencies follow best practices for hiring – requiring police candidates to undergo fingerprint-based criminal history background checks or psychological exams and verifying whether an officer’s training or license had been revoked for misconduct – for example, even though many agencies did. The law also gave agencies two years from enactment date to obtain mandatory certification with hiring and reporting standards.

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “New York was the first state in the nation to mandate basic training for new police officers. The Professional Policing Act builds upon that legacy requiring rigorous, comprehensive standards for hiring and reporting. I want to thank the members of my team who have spent many hours over the past two years working with agencies and reviewing documentation to ensure implementation of these critical reforms.”

A press release stated, “Hiring standards require police departments and sheriffs’ offices to conduct psychological assessments and background investigations for police officer candidates. The background investigation must include, but not be limited to, a comprehensive application and personal history statement by the candidate that addresses components of moral character outlined in the standard; a fingerprint-based criminal history check; and at minimum, a review of information provided by family members, personal references, educational institutions, previous employers, prior neighbors or landlords, organizations and affiliations; credit agencies; the courts; law enforcement agencies where the application has lived or worked; the state Department of Motor Vehicles; and the U.S. Armed Forces.

“Police departments and sheriffs’ offices must conduct in-person interviews of candidates, and request searches of the state’s Central Registry of Police and Peace Officers, which is maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, and the National Decertification Index for training certificate or license revocations due to officer misconduct.

“Agencies also must report officer misconduct to the appropriate state agency. Village, town and city police departments and county sheriffs’ offices must report any officer about whom they have received five or more complaints within two years to the state attorney general’s law enforcement misconduct investigative office; police departments operated by state agencies must report misconduct to the state inspector general’s office; and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority police departments must report misconduct to their inspector generals’ offices.

“All agencies must comply with reporting requirements to the Central State Registry of Police and Peace Officers. That information includes, but is not limited, hire dates, completion of basic training dates, and removals for cause. Under state law, a police or peace officer’s basic training certificate is immediately invalidated when an officer is removed for cause for misconduct, or an officer has resigned or retired subsequent to, or in connection with, allegations of misconduct. DCJS maintains a list of police and peace officers whose training has been decertified on its website and updates it monthly.

“The state’s Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation Council, to which DCJS provides staff support, oversees the mandatory certification process and a voluntary accreditation program for police departments and sheriffs’ offices. The council awarded certification on a rolling basis, beginning in December 2022, and concluding earlier this month. This allowed the 532 agencies to compile all documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance, provided DCJS staff adequate time to review those documents, and resulted in all agencies meeting the Oct. 16, 2023, statutory deadline. Agencies must be recertified every five years.”

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