The current societal discussion is about 'Black Lives Matter' and that is a very important discussion. But while some people acknowledge that not all police are demons, another, related discussion is being swept under the politically correct rug. Some police are bad. Most police are good.

The solution to reforming bad police is not the knee-jerk response to the most recent cases of police brutality by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Assembly that we witnessed this week. They went on a legislative binge to limit or regulate police state-wide. It seems to me that the Black Lives Matter has been pressing for thoughtful solutions to unfair and damaging social problems. Surely if society needs to change, police, who are part of society also need to change, and some of the legislations are good ideas. But Cuomo made it seem like he was racing the other states to get legislation in place.

In an email to New Yorkers Tuesday Cuomo said, "Late last week, New York was the first state in the nation to take action. The Legislature passed, and I enacted, the 'Say Their Name' landmark reform agenda that will help reduce inequality in policing and reimagine New York's criminal justice system."

Some of the reforms signed into law over the past week or so include allowing for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by repealing Section 50-A of the civil rights law; Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers; prohibiting false race-based 911 reports; designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to civilian deaths; Reporting discharge of police weapons within 6 hours of the incident; Increased reporting by courts and police on racial statistics; Requirement for all state police to wear bodycams; and the creation of a independent Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office. Again, there are some good ideas in there, but maybe some questionable ones, too.

Since moving to Tompkins County over 30 years ago I have, like most people, had a few encounters with our Sheriff's Department and the State Police. I can't think of a single instance when I felt an officer was anything less than respectful and professional. I understand that such an anecdotal impression does not tell the full story of policing in our county. But it does make me wonder whether painting new restrictions with such a wide brush doesn't punish the many good law enforcement officers who use good judgement in applying the law.

There is another aspect of this that I have rarely seen mentioned since the George Floyd murder. That is that the public backlash against law enforcement is causing such knee-jerk responses from legislatures across the nation that are rushing to defund their police departments, that average law-abiding people are becoming more afraid.

I spoke to our Sheriff and Undersheriff very shortly after the so-called Bail Reform Law was passed last year. They were trying to make the best of it, while acknowledging that it would mean twice as much work -- the first time when arresting a person, and the second time trying to round them up when they didn't show up in court. And typical of Albany, there was no state funding to help local departments pay for the additional workload. Even the State Attorney General said it would cost much more to effectively enforce the new law.

I have to say that despite my deep respect for both individuals and our local police in general, I left that interview feeling afraid that it is harder for law enforcement officers to protect us. I feel even more afraid now that the Governor and State Legislature have thoughtlessly rushed to look good without taking the time to be good -- without stopping to make reasoned decisions that let good cops operate better while still restricting bad cop activities.  I suppose I am feeling a small touch of what people of color have been feeling all these years.

Black lives do matter. It would be easy to say that isolated incidents reported in the news are the ones reported because they are so horrific. That would be a gross simplification of a much wider problem that involves prejudice, thoughtless emotional response, and misplaced societal norms that really do need addressing. These isolated incidents do us the service of bringing this discussion to the forefront where it belongs, and where it has not especially been for decades. But rushing to scapegoat all law enforcement officers dishonors those whose lives were taken by bad officers, because a little feel-good bandaid ain't gonna do it, and more people will be killed or mistreated without real solutions.

For instance Tompkins County's Alternatives to Incarceration program appears to have good statistical results. And, by the way, the last three sheriffs all told me they supported the program, even when I was skeptical.

Despite the Governor's brag, it is not at all important to be the first state to enact widespread police reform. What is really impressive is when elected officials take the time to think about it, to include the input of as many stakeholders as possible, and come up with the very best possible solutions to what I think we all agree is a horrific racial problem. That is the only real way these horrible attitudes and killings are ever going to be eradicated.