Wyandanch, NY – Two resolutions introduced by Legislator Jason Richberg were unanimously approved by the Suffolk County Legislature at its general meeting on October 6: IR1552-2020, “A Local Law to amend the County Human Rights Law to include false reporting of a crime based on bias,” and IR1650-2020, “Establishing a task force to study the impacts of COVID-19 in Suffolk County.”
IR1552-2020 amends the County Human Rights Law to include false reporting of a crime based on bias. Under the new law, it will be unlawful for individuals to make false criminal allegations to a law enforcement agency due to their own animosity, antipathy or bias based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, handicap or health condition. The Suffolk County Human Rights Commission will be tasked with enforcement and violations could result in civil penalties.
“I feel strongly that my main responsibility as a legislator is to ensure fair and equal treatment of all Suffolk residents. Everyone has the right to live peacefully and without harassment,” said Legislator Richberg. “Nationally, we’ve seen a large number of cases of people who feel entitled to take ownership of public spaces and report people of color to the police for the crime of simply existing. I’ve seen this take place in my district first hand. These false reports do nothing to protect public safety, and waste the time and resources of police officers and 911 operators. I’m confident that this legislation will provide a deterrent and encourage thinking twice before making these frivolous and harmful reports.”
“It is completely unacceptable for a call to the police to be motivated by one’s own personal bias against someone because of the color of their skin. This type of behavior runs contrary to the principle of equality under the law upon which our nation was founded,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. “I thank Legislator Richberg for his work on this important legislation to deter people from making these false reports.”
Also approved in a unanimous vote was IR1650-2020, which establishes a task force to study the impacts of COVID-19 in Suffolk County. The group will study the various economic, health, housing, social, and labor impacts of COVID-19 in Suffolk County and make recommendations to remediate impacts and any identified disparities when confronting future health emergencies. The task force will also review county functions and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine which measures were effective and identify areas for improvement.
“Suffolk’s low-income and minority communities were some of the hardest hit by the COVID pandemic,” said Legislator Richberg. “We need to take a close look at all of the ways COVID-19 impacted Suffolk, determine areas of the County where disparities in those impacts exist, and make the necessary changes to ensure all of our communities are prepared in the case of future health emergencies. I’d like to thank my colleagues for supporting this important piece of legislation.”