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Westchester County Officials Concerned About Bail Reform's Impact On Local Police, Budget

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Major changes are coming to the criminal justice system in New York State.

Bail reform will have a big impact on local police and, CBS2's Tony Aiello found out Friday, a multi-million dollar hit to the Westchester County budget.

Starting Jan. 1, most people accused of crimes in New York will be released just on their signature, including some charged with second-degree manslaughter and negligent homicide. There will be no bail or pretrial detention except for those facing the most serious felony charges.

"People are finally starting to realize the effects that this may have on us and it's not good," said Keith Olsen, the president of the Yonkers police union.

Olsen says while bail reform is well-intentioned and some in pretrial detention deserve to be released, he's concerned about the real-world consequences.

"It's gonna be having more criminals, specifically recidivists, people who commit crimes on a regular basis, out on the streets available to commit more crimes," Olsen said.

The New Rochelle PBA shared similar concerns on social media.

Albany Democrats passed bail reform as part of their progressive agenda this year.

Reform supporters argue the bail law will prevent poor people from languishing in jail for low-level crimes while their cases work through the system. They say it will also create a fairer system and stop prosecutors from using incarceration to pressure a defendant into a plea agreement. Being free also allows a person to better prepare for their case, advocates said.

State Sen. Sue Serino said lawmakers rushed to reform and "failed to consider the very real danger that these sweeping changes will have on communities."

Republicans are partnering with some victims' rights groups to try to reform the reforms.

"Our legislation would permit judges to actually consider dangerousness when determining whether an individual should be held pretrial," Serino said.

Bail Reform: Justice Expert Breaks Down How Jan. 1 Policy Will Impact New York City --

Another Albany reform dramatically accelerates the process and timeline for police and prosecutors to turn over evidence and other information to defense attorneys.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer says that requires hiring more people and will cost county taxpayers $2.2 million.

"Keep in mind, this is a mandate that did not exist in last year's budget, so this is an additional amount of money," Latimer said.

Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino is already briefing local law enforcement on how to prepare for the big changes coming on Jan. 1.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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