Legislature Votes 15-1 To Support Changes To State Law In Aftermath Of Bail Reform Efforts
Firefighters, Paramedics, Ambulance Corps Workers And Others Not Covered Under New Reforms
Rockland County Legislators voted 15-1 Tuesday to support the Emergency First Responders Privacy And Protection Act.
The legislation seeks to amend new state discovery reform laws so that the personal identifying information of first responders other than police officers is protected. Police officers are already protected under the new laws.
“First responders were overlooked, and the issue needs to be corrected now,” Legislator Santulli said. “Firefighters, both paid and volunteer, EMS personnel, and other first responders go to work in hopes of providing help and care to people. They should not have to worry about how their personal identifying information – their name, address and age and more – might be used against them.”
The new discovery reform laws were adopted as part of the 2019-2020 New York State Budget. They overhauled the legal discovery process, setting a faster response time for providing materials such as police reports, radio transmissions, bodycam and dash-cam video, as well as other data related to prosecutions.
The law protected police and other law enforcement by allowing their personal identifying information to be excluded from discovery documents and records, but it did not include the first responders who often provide service at crime scenes, potentially subjecting them to retaliation or witness tampering.
Legislator Santulli, the main sponsor of the resolution, is a volunteer firefighter who has served with the New City and Congers Fire Departments.
Rockland County Legislature Chair Alden H. Wolfe, who voted in support of the amendments, said first responders should not become embroiled in legal cases that may emerge.
“First responders are there when we need them most and, in some cases, are rendering aid at crime scenes,” Chair Wolfe said. “They should not be subject to any sort of pressure, harassment, intimidating or even threatening behavior simply because they were doing their job.”
The Emergency First Responders Privacy And Protection Act is currently being considered by the state Legislature, as Bills No. S7280 and A09107, and would amend existing state law.