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Suffolk County police discrimination bill testimony gets emotional during 4-hour hearing

Suffolk County police
Elvert Barnes
/
Flickr

Police and those advocating for police reform testified for more than four hours at a public hearing Tuesday in the Suffolk County Legislature on a bill that would prohibit discrimination and harassment of police officers. 

Under the bill, first responders would get the same protections as those facing discrimination for their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, maritial status and veteran status. The bill would make it easier for cops to sue in court for harassment and allow the Suffolk Human Rights Commission to levy fines up to $100,000.

In an emotional meeting, supporters of the bill said the anti-police environment subjects cops to harassment. Opponents called the bill vague and would make police into “super-citizens” giving them more protections than anyone else.

The bill is scheduled for a final vote next month. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has already signaled he won’t sign it because a similar bill in Nassau faced constitutional challenges.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.