A plan by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to spend $60 million for police vests and body cameras got plowed under when state legislators failed to reach a deal on criminal justice reforms. The money Cuomo planned to spend on vests and cameras for police in high crime areas went instead to pay for new snow plows and a handful of other major expenses, including last summer’s manhunt for two escaped murderers and the state’s response to a Buffalo snowstorm in 2014, the New York Daily News reports. Cuomo aides defended the move, arguing that the funding for police vests and cameras was contingent on lawmakers passing a larger package of criminal justice reforms proposed by the governor. When the larger package failed to win passage, the governor re-directed the money.
“They never passed the bill and hopefully they remember to pass it this year,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. Lawmakers argued the governor should have followed through on the funding for cameras and vests. “So because we couldn’t agree on x, y or z then does that mean police aren’t worthy of protection, even though his very words said they were a priority?” said a legislative source. “Bottom line — everyone understood that the money was to be used for the policy priorities he outlined.” The money for vests and body cameras was to be part of a $150 million allocation of legal settlement money obtained by the state that Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to use for public safety and emergency response initiatives. Cuomo proposed using state funds for body cameras and vests in January 2015 when he unveiled a package of criminal justice reforms in response to the Eric Garner case and other police controversies.