Last week's death of NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller has prompted state leaders and lawmakers to revive talks of New York's bail reform law and questioning if the policy that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges should be amended a fourth time. 

Diller, who was 31, was killed March 25 in Far Rockaway, Queens, while conducting a traffic stop. The man accused of fatally shooting Diller had a record of 21 prior arrests — sparking conversation across the political spectrum about flaws in the state's criminal justice system.

"How many more [police deaths] do we have to see while the system continues to fail us?" Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said in the Capitol on Wednesday.

Assembly Republicans and law enforcement officers rallied in Albany to push for the passage of legislation to increase penalties for violent crimes, gun crimes and frequent violent felony offenders.

Republicans tied the discussion to their long-standing calls to repeal the 2019 bail reform law, though the man charged with shooting Diller was not out on bail and did not have an open case.

Republican lawmakers also back measures to impose mandatory life without parole or the death penalty for people convicted of murdering a police officer or first responder.

"It's time we get back to taking care of the victims of crime, right?" Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood said Wednesday. "That's what we have to get back to."

Republicans were encouraged by Gov. Kathy Hochul's comments made over the weekend in support of additional changes to the state's cashless bail statute and further rolling back the 2019 law.

"I think everyone knows my positions on the bail laws — I've been trying to get the changes to go back to where it was," Hochul told reporters over the weekend.

The governor was confronted by angry mourners Friday at Diller's wake after meeting with the officer's family.

"If that's true, she ought to spend some of her capital — this is the time she has the power — she should push back on the majority and say 'We're not going to do anything until we get these laws changed to make New York safer,'" Barclay said. 

Last year's state budget was more than a month late because Hochul insisted upon additional bail reform changes that Democratic leaders Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins refused to support. Hochul has rolled back the law twice after tweaks former Gov. Andrew Cuomo included in the 2020 budget mere months after the law took effect.

Hochul has overseen changes to the law in the last two years to give judges more discretion and make more crimes bail-eligible for pretrial release. She argues the changes have been successful in reducing crime and statewide recidivism rates.

"Some will read it that way and some will choose not to," she said. "All I know is violent crimes are down 30% and recidivism is down 40%."

The governor wants more robust training for New York judges about recent updates to the statutue, and said she she often discusses the issue with state Chief Justice Rowan Wilson about educating justices statewide.

Legislative leaders have brushed off Hochul's comments and stand against revisiting bail reform, and getting the support of other state Democrats won't be easy.

Heastie did not directly respond to Hochul's support for further bail changes, also highlighting the various amendments made to the law — several of which took effect less than a year ago.

The speaker said the Legislature has been distracted by the conversation, which is not part of this year's budget talks as the Legislature and Hochul clash on proposals to crack down on retail theft and make it a felony to assault a retail worker — ideas the Legislature rejected in its one-house budgets.

"No, I don't believe in the history of increasing criminals has ever been the reason why crime has gone down," Heastie told reporters Tuesday. "Other things happening is why crime goes down."

Public safety remains a contentious issue in state — especially with all members of the Legislature up for election in November.

But the governor isn't alone in her questioning of the efficacy of New York's bail laws.

Researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice have published three of five reports on the bail laws, including recent changes and their impact on recidivism in New York. Additional research examining the long-term impacts of the policy will be released through early 2025.

René Ropac, senior research associate at the college's Data Collaborative for Justice, said the data shows the bail laws have had a minimal impact on New York's recidivism rates overall. But he argues the changes to the system have increased recidivism for certain at-risk groups of people pending trial who are often charged with serious crimes or have substantial criminal histories.

Lawmakers should revisit further tweaks to the law, Ropac added, but it doesn't need substantial changes.

"I don't think we should want to throw the baby out with the bath water here," Ropac said. "A lot of bail reform was good, but perhaps certain provisions ought to be rolled back further."

Meanwhile, state Democrats remain united that issues within the criminal justice system largely rest with better enforcement of existing law instead of imposing harsher penalties.

"I think what we should probably do ... including all New Yorkers who think we need some new criminal codes, is look at existing criminal codes and enforce those," Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes told Spectrum News 1 on Wednesday.