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Bail Reform: Law Enforcement On Long Island Band Together To Recommend Changes

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There is a new chorus of calls for changes to bail reform in New York state, just three weeks after it took effect.

On Tuesday, police, sheriffs, and lawmakers gathered on Long Island to launch a coalition to recommend changes, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

"We predicted disaster and now you see the results," said Kevin Black, president of the Nassau Police Superior Officers Association.

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There were bipartisan calls from Long Island leaders for what they call common sense changes to bail reform.

"What we've seen is too much all at once," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

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Curran formed a panel to come up with recommendations this week to submit to Albany.

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Most here agree bail reform was needed to keep low-level offenders from languishing in jail simply because they couldn't afford minimal bail money. But they want judges to have discretion to set bail.

"There are people walking out the door of arraignment courts with assault charges, with weapons charges, with gun charges, assault on children, all types of things like this, and I certainly don't think that's in anybody's mind good for our society," said Brian Sullivan of the Nassau Corrections Officers Benevolent Association.

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There have been calls for change amid tragedies like a convicted drunk driver re-arrested for trying to disable his ignition lock being set free by a judge and then days later allegedly driving drunk again and killing a man.

According to a Siena poll, New York voters now say reform is bad for New York by a 49%-37% margin, a reversal since last year.

Advocates say it's too soon to judge how bail reform is working.

"We don't have what we need to truly evaluate the effectiveness of these reforms as it relates to public safety," said Khalil Cumberbatch of New Yorkers United for Justice.

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But Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of state Senate, said on CBSN New York she would be willing to consider changes. She met Tuesday wit the district attorneys of both Nassau and Suffolk counties to discuss the impact of bail reform on the front lines.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said he's already seen a band of accused burglars disappear.

"We told them to appear the next day for their ankle bracelet. Guess who didn't show? And then their court date was last Thursday. Guess who didn't show?" Ryder said. "This is something that if we don't get out in front of it, it is going to cause out crime numbers to climb and climb quickly."

A lesser known part of criminal justice reform is a new requirement that police hand over all evidence to the defense within 15 days of an arrest, including the name of witnesses. They are predicting charges will have to be dropped and as a result witnesses will be too afraid to come forward.

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