August 26, 2022
New Cayuga County Undersheriff in New Year
Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck has announced the upcoming retirement of Undersheriff Steve Smith (pictured left) after four years in the role. Smith has served in the Sheriff’s Office for 25 years as a Road Patrol Deputy, Detective and Undersheriff. He will retire at the end of the year.
Succeeding Undersheriff Smith in January will be Stuart Peenstra (pictured right). Peenstra is currently the Seneca Falls Police Chief and has served with that Department since 1998.
Retired Captain Returns as Chemung County Undersheriff
Chemung County Sheriff Bill Schrom recently announced that former Sheriff’s Captain Doug Houper (pictured at right in green shirt) has returned to the Sheriff’s Office as Undersheriff. He started in his new position on August 19. Doug retired from the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office in 2018 after serving 27 years with the Agency.
After leaving the Sheriff’s Office, Doug was pulled out of retirement by Chemung County Executive Chris Moss to serve as Director of E-911 at the Chemung County Emergency Management Office. In that capacity, Doug and his Agency were able to accomplish the first-time accreditation for that division. County Executive Moss recently announced his intention to transfer the 911 Center from the Executive Office to the Sheriff’s Office.
Houper succeeds Undersheriff Sean Holley (pictured at left), who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Long-standing Sheriffs will remember Captain Houper’s late father, Charles D. W. Houper, who served as Chemung County Sheriff from 1984 to 2004.
Sheriffs Provide Free Signs to Businesses
Several Sheriff’s Offices have begun offering free “Lawful concealed carry permitted” signs to local businesses to comply with recently passed New York State gun laws.
State legislation, set to take effect in September, will require private businesses to specifically post signage (sample shown) or verbally allow licensed individuals to lawfully carry firearms. The signs are prominently displayed in businesses, allowing properly licensed citizens to carry their firearms and exercise their Second Amendment rights.
The Oswego County and Fulton County Sheriff’s Offices, as well as other Sheriff’s Offices across the state, have enacted outreach to area businesses.
New National Suicide Prevention Hotline Number in Use
Prior to last month’s launch of the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Dial number 988), several Sheriffs’ Offices posted notices of this resource on their social media pages, using information prepared and circulated by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association.
988 is the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline). This number is active and in use across the United States.
In rare but critical circumstances, trained counselors who are local to the caller’s location will assess when someone is at imminent risk of harming themselves or someone else and contact 911 to dispatch emergency services as needed.
Spread the word . . . and The Number.
Fewer Law Enforcement Personnel Died in First Half of 2022
Roughly 30 percent fewer police and other law enforcement officers in the United States have died in the line of duty so far in 2022 compared with 2021, attributed largely to a drop in COVID-19 deaths, while the number of officers killed in “firearms related fatalities” rose slightly — from 28 to 33 — according to a report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
“With zero officer fatalities as our ultimate goal, observing comparatively lower numbers in line-of-duty deaths provides us with cautious hope for those who’ve made a commitment to serve and protect our communities,” noted the Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the Fund.
The report found 129 deaths of federal, state, county, municipal, campus and tribal law enforcement officers as of June 30, compared to 188 in the same period of 2021.
During the first half of 2022 a total of 54 officers died due to COVID, compared to 98 in the first six months of 2021.
According to the Fund, a COVID death is considered “in the line of duty” if researchers determine the officer was infected on the job.
Review: Sheriffs’ Summer Training Conference
Sheriffs and their families journeyed to beautiful Jefferson County last month for the New York State Sheriffs’ Association annual Summer Training Conference in Clayton, NY, located in the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River region.
The Conference included numerous presentations by specialists and introduced topics such as “Chaplain Programs for Sheriff’s Offices” and “A New Look at Jail Good Time.” The Conference hosted special events to bring hard-working Sheriffs together for shop talk and R & R, with more than half the Sheriffs from accros the state in attendance.
Following is a pictorial summary of Conference highlights.
PASSing It On — Saratoga County Deputy Sheriff Jon Becker, Program Director for C-PASS, provides an update on the group’s activities and membership. Additional information about C-PASS is shown later in this newsletter.
Major General Milford Beagle, Jr. (pictured), Commander of 10th Mountain Division, United States Army based at nearby Fort Drum, addresses Sheriffs during a session.
Staff Inspector Andrew Crowe, from the New York State Police Office of Counter Terrorism, outlines important points of operation and organization relating to the Office’s Firearms Trafficking Interdiction Program.
Straight Talk — Superintendent Kevin Bruen, New York State Police, gives Sheriffs a rundown on what’s happening at the Agency.
Joseph Popcun (center), Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, leads a discussion. Standing at left is Livingston County Sheriff and New York State Sheriffs’ Association President Thomas Dougherty.
There was also time for recognition and conferring honors to past Sheriffs, as the New York State Sheriffs’ Association presented Life Memberships in the Association to former Jefferson County Sheriff James Lafferty (center left photo) and to former St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells (center right photo). Flanking the Sheriffs in both photos are NYSSA Executive Director Peter Kehoe (left) and Livingston County Sheriff / NYSSA President Thomas Dougherty.
C-PASS Present and Future
Class Act — Participants of a recent C-PASS Basic Training program in Saratoga Springs gather for a final parting shot. Thirty more School Resource Officers / School Resource Deputies earned their DCJS and MPTC certifications through this program. Flanking the Saratoga class are Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo (left) and C-PASS Program Director Jonathan Becker (right), also of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
C-PASS is having a busy year; the organization now has over 400 SRO / SRD members in its group. It recently completed two Basic SRO School training sessions – the one in Saratoga County and second session in Livingston County – with another program planned this fall in Ontario County. For more information, check out the C-PASS website or contact Program Director Jon Becker (518.434.9091 | firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jail Supervisors Conference | September 26 – 29, 2022
NYSSA’s 2022 continuing education training program for Sheriff’s jail administrators is scheduled for September 26 – 29, 2022 at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY. Monday, September 26 will be a travel day; some committees may meet that day in the afternoon. The program is back to a regular schedule, so there are full training days on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a half day on Thursday. Click here for more information and program / hotel registration links.
Rounding Out the File
Sheriffs’ Institute Camp Finishes with Another Strong Season
It seems like it only opened for the summer yesterday, but New York State Sheriffs’ Institute Camp Iroquois has closed after another successful season. Check out these videos (Most Popular and the first three on the top row) and the website showing how campers kept cool and busy during a hot and action-packed summer. Cayuga County Deputy Valerie Thurston (pictured) took the opportunity to try out a kayak at the New York State Sheriffs’ Summer Camp when she joined campers for two days. We like the full uniform and Stetson. Well done, Deputy Thurston!
Like Camp, County Fairs Are Ending, Too
Another Mooving Experience — Chemung County Deputy John Burczynski and Deputy Dave Buchholz (photographer) stopped by the Chemung County Fairgrounds to check things out before the fair officially kicked off. Looks like Deputy Burczynski made a couple of new friends.
Sheriffs Make the Scene at Other County Fairs and Events
Cool It! – Boonville-Oneida County Fair | Boonville, NY
Proud to Be a Part – Greene County Youth Fair | Cairo, NY
Hot Dogs and a Cool K-9 – Jefferson County Fair | Watertown, NY
Our Diamond Partners
July 29, 2022
Wyoming County Sheriff to Retire
Wyoming County Sheriff Gregory Rudolph recently announced he will retire. His last day in office is July 31. Undersheriff David P. Linder will assume the duties of Sheriff on August 1.
Rudolph has served as Sheriff since Jan. 1, 2014; he was Acting Sheriff during the last five months of 2013. He joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2001 after serving with the Attica Police Department beginning in 1997 and for two years with Immigration and Naturalization Services as a detention enforcement officer. He was recognized in 2007 as Deputy of the Year by both the National Sheriffs’ Association and the New York State Sheriffs’ Association following a March 2006 ambush in Attica where he and another officer were wounded. Rudolph was also awarded the National Sheriffs’ Association Medal of Valor. He received the Law Enforcement Purple Heart in 2006 from former Wyoming County Sheriff Farris Heimann.
Undersheriff Linder has been with the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office since 1993. He began his career with the Warsaw Police Department in 1991. Prior to becoming Undersheriff he served five years as Patrol Division Captain, and prior to that assignment, he spent 12 years as a Road Patrol Sergeant and overseeing the Civil Division. Undersheriff Linder holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Buffalo State College.
New Undersheriff for Chenango County
Chenango County Sheriff Ernest R. Cutting, Jr. announced earlier this month the promotion of Lieutenant Joshua Gould to Undersheriff. Gould succeeds former Undersheriff Daniel Frair. Undersheriff Gould has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2003 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2018. He previously held the positions of Deputy, K9 Deputy, and Sergeant during his tenure with the Sheriff’s Office.
State Gun Legislation Results in Swift NYSSA Response
Sheriffs and the New York State Sheriffs’ Association reacted swiftly to new gun-control laws that were passed in one day by the State Legislature earlier this month without input from the Sheriffs or other affected parties.
Following a statewide conference call, where more than 70 Sheriffs and law-enforcement personnel discussed their concerns and offered suggestions, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association quickly issued a statement confirming Sheriffs’ position regarding the new legislation. Read the statement here.
Increase in First-Responder Suicides Prompts Coalition
At a press conference earlier this month, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association launched a health and wellness program to assist first-responders carrying stored traumas from their encounters with the public at various levels.
“When you think about law enforcement, some may not think about the challenges that go into these careers and these long-term stored traumas,” said Thomas Dougherty (pictured), NYS Sheriffs’ Association President and Livingston County Sheriff. “We take this as our obligation as leaders in law enforcement to change the culture, change the stigma, and that’s what this project is all about.”
The idea for the program followed a national report noting 177 first responders took their lives in 2021 – with 77 percent of those deaths being law enforcement officers – and the increasing rate of first responders suffering from depression and PTSD.
The program represents a partnership between the Association and FirstNet, Built with AT&T, a communication platform that supports first responders’ incident response.
“I hope that as time goes on, not only are members more open to expressing their struggles, but the general public is more open to understanding the challenges of these jobs and the stigma is reduced through that,” Sheriff Dougherty said.
New York State to Model Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Initiative
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ new Domestic Terrorism Unit has chosen to model a statewide program based on an initiative launched three years ago by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
ROCTAC, or Rochester Threat Advisory Committee, is a threat assessment and management advisory team that closes threat management gaps by bringing people together before a crime is committed.
“It’s a holistic group that gets together and analyzes their cases, looks at it, and sees how we can mitigate the risk and take someone off that path and stairway to targeted violence,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter (pictured).
ROCTAC was created in 2019 when Sheriff Baxter recognized the need for a community-wide threat analysis strategy.
Jackie Bray, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, says working from an existing model “puts us three or four years ahead of where we would be without a model. These guys scaled really tough brick walls to get to where Monroe County is today.”
New K9 Training Course for Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K9 program now has a new obstacle course to give its two K9s, Rayzor and Frankie, additional training.
The course presents K9s with obstacles they may face during a real deployment, says Undersheriff Bradley Mazur. It will primarily be used by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit and other outside law enforcement K9 units upon request and availability.
“This gives them the opportunity to train, to gain that confidence, so when they are sent to the field, both the K9 and the handler are confident they can complete that,” noted Mazur.
Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron, Jr. said the K9 program throughout the years has been greatly supported by the community.
“It was an effort by many, many members of our community and from businesses throughout our area,” Sheron said. “When we’ve had the passing of a K9 in the past and it took funds to purchase a new dog, the community comes together. The support they give us is unbelievable.”
NSA Installs Vermont Sheriff as President
At its Annual Summer Meeting last month in Kansas City, MO, the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) inducted Sheriff Bill Bohnyak as the Association’s 82nd NSA President.
Bohnyak has served in law enforcement for nearly 34 years and is currently Sheriff of Orange County in Eastern Vermont. He is a graduate of the Monmouth County New Jersey Police Academy, Vermont Police Academy, National Sheriff’s Institute 95th Class, the Rural Executive Management Institute 28th Class and holds several instructor levels. His main focus as Sheriff has been reducing domestic and sexual violence against woman and children.
The New York State Sheriffs’ Association congratulates Sheriff Bohnyak on this important achievement and wishes him a successful and productive year as NSA President.
Seneca County Undersheriff Peter Lawatsch
Peter S. Lawatsch, former Seneca County Undersheriff, passed away in late June. He served with the New York State Police from 1968 to 1989. After his retirement from the State Police, he joined the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, where he was appointed Undersheriff in 1992.
Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Captain David Bentley
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office mourns the loss of Capt. David Bentley (pictured), a 37-year veteran of the Office who died earlier this month at Chautauqua Lake while off duty.
During his career with the Sheriff’s Office, he served in many positions including Patrol Deputy, DWI Enforcement Detail and as an Investigator with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force. He also was a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Bentley was promoted to Captain in January 2019. Captain Bentley is from a family with distinguished careers in law enforcement. His father, John, joined the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy and later served as Sheriff from 1973 until his passing in 1994. It was Sheriff Bentley who hired current Sheriff James Quattrone. Bentley’s brother, John Jr., recently retired as Chief of the Lakewood-Busti Police Department.
The New York State Sheriffs’ Association offers its sincere condolences to the families of Undersheriff Lawatsch and Captain Bentley.
New York State Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Peter Kehoe presents a plaque to Allegany County Sheriff Ricky Whitney, recognizing the recent accreditation of the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office Court Security Division. Certificates of Appreciation for work done by Sheriff’s Office staff were also presented. Pictured left to right: Sgt. Shawn Grusendorf, Lt. Kevin Morsman, Sheriff Whitney, NYSSA Executive Director Kehoe, Lt. Andrew Bigelow and Sgt. Craig Plaisted.
Rounding Out the File
Scenes from Broome County Graduation Ceremonies
Pomp Plus — Last month, graduates of Binghamton’s Rod Serling School of the Arts had a special treat with the appearance of the Broome County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard, providing additional Pomp to the Circumstance.
Decoloring the Troop — A graduate respectfully removes some of the streamers that landed on the Color Guard.
Looking to the Future — At the Harpursville Junior – Senior High School graduation, the young child pictured at left expressed an interest in becoming a police officer when he grows up, and took the time to meet with a Broome County Sheriff Deputy.
From the Broome County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page: “It’s a pleasure and honor providing security for area graduation ceremonies. The safety and security of students, staff members and families are very important to us. We wish all graduates the best after graduation!”
Sheriff Tim Whitcomb – Snake Hunter
Not Crocodile Dundee . . . but Close — In the wilds of Pennsylvania recently, Cattaraugus County Sheriff Tim Whitcomb snagged a rattler with his customized catcher. [The snake was not impressed that Sheriff Whitcomb was a former President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association.]
What Do You Call a Gathering of Sheriffs? Sheriffic!
Several retired Sheriffs from Western New York – and one very active current Sheriff – met recently for dinner and to talk shop. Pictured from left to right: Tom Beilein, Retired Sheriff of Niagara County and former Chair, State Commission of Corrections; Gary Maha, Retired Sheriff of Genesee County; Patrick O’ Flynn, Retired Sheriff of Monroe County; James Voutour, Retired Sheriff of Niagara County; John York, Retired Sheriff of Livingston County; Ron Spike Unretired Sheriff of Yates County and Barry Virts, Recently Retired Sheriff of Wayne County. Looking sharp, gentlemen!
Our Diamond Partners
NYSSA Launches Health and Wellness Programs for Sheriff’s Office Personnel
The New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA) and FirstNet – Built with AT&T announce the launch of an innovative, statewide health and wellness program available to all 58 County Sheriff’s Offices in New York. The comprehensive program provides Sheriff’s Office staff with support systems to help manage stress and cope with grief, depression, anger, and other emotions that may stem from job-related stress.
Public safety service often comes with great risk and personal sacrifice. Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and suicide among public safety and law enforcement personnel far exceed the rates of the general population. NYSSA and FirstNet – the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community — believe that all sheriffs personnel should have access to the program.
The program includes:
- New or improved Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- A PSA campaign utilizing videos and social platforms to communicate the key message for Sheriffs’ Office personnel: “It’s ok NOT to be ok”
- Crisis and trauma training
- School Resource Officer support
- A 24/7 confidential peer-to-peer hotline staffed by deputy sheriffs and other personnel from around the state to provide early intervention and keep stress from escalating or manifesting.
July 6, 2022 — Once again the New York State Legislature has seen fit to pass sweeping new criminal justice laws that affect the rights of millions of New York citizens, and which impose burdensome new duties on local government officials, without any consultation with the people who will be responsible for carrying out the provisions of those new laws. This has become a habit with the Legislature and has resulted in other criminal justice disasters such as New York’s so-called Bail Reform Law.
Some action by the Legislature was necessary to fill the firearms licensing vacuum created when the Supreme Court struck down New York’s unconstitutional restrictions on our citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. But it did not need to be thoughtless, reactionary action, just to make a political statement.
The new firearms law language first saw the light of day on a Friday morning and was signed into law Friday afternoon. A parliamentary ruse was used to circumvent the requirement in our State Constitution that Legislators — and the public — must have three days to study and discuss proposed legislation before it can be taken up for a vote. The Legislature’s leadership claimed, and the Governor agreed, that it was a “necessity” to pass the Bill immediately, without waiting the Constitutionally required three days, even though the law would not take effect for two full months. Consequently, law enforcement agencies and the courts, which bear most of the responsibility for implementing the new licensing laws, were deprived of any opportunity to point out to Legislators the burdensome, costly, and unworkable nature of many of the new laws’ provisions. And, of course, our citizens, whose rights are once again being circumscribed, probably again in unconstitutional ways, had no opportunity to communicate their concerns to their legislative representatives.
We want to be clear: The Sheriffs of New York do strongly support reasonable licensing laws that aim to assure that firearms do not get into the wrong hands. We do not support punitive licensing requirements that aim only to restrain and punish law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights. If we had been consulted before passage of these laws, we could have helped the Legislators discern the difference between those two things, and the result would have been better, more workable licensing provisions that respect the rights of our law-abiding citizens and punish the lawbreakers.
The New York State Sheriffs’ Association hosted the annual Undersheriffs Training Conference on June 20-22, 2022, in Saratoga, NY. Over 40 Undersheriffs from around the state participated in the conference.
Among the highlights:
- Attorney Elayne Gold from the law firm of Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLC returned for a discussion with Undersheriffs on Employee Corrective Actions and General Municipal Law updates. “Times have changed,” she explained, noting the increased complexity of handling labor-related issues. “You have to take people as they are.”
- Program Manager Robert Cuttita provided updates on Sheriffs’ Covid Grants for County Jails, followed by Tobi Kirschmann, Founder and President of DNAInvestigations, with information on advances in Genetic Genealogy that aid law-enforcement agencies in solving current and cold cases.
- All three Commissioners from the State’s Commission on Corrections – Commission Chair and former Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley, Commissioner Yolanda Canty, and Commissioner Thomas Loughren, former Chenango County Sheriff and Past President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association – spoke during the SCOC Review.
- Warren County Undersheriff Terry Comeau consulted with the Commissioners during a discussion about Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT).
- Tony Lowden, the new Vice President of Reintegration and Community Engagement for ViaPath Technologies, shared his backstory with Undersheriffs, including his work as Reintegration Czar for former President Trump.
Learn about upcoming NYSSA conferences and events by visiting our Training & Events calendar.
The New York State Sheriff’s Association hosted one of its signature programs, the Civil Supervisors Conference, on June 15-17, 2022, in Saratoga, NY. Over 60 participants attended the three-day conference to hear about the latest trends in such areas as the use of drone technology during an eviction, detecting and investigating complex financial crimes, and recent laws passed during the 2021-22 New York State Legislative Session.
Among the highlights:
- Attorney William Perritt rom the New York State Office of Court Administration provided details on the new procedures for firearm surrender and seizure in accordance with the Safe Homes and Families Act.
- Mike Grossi of the Putnam County Sheriff’s office, Jaymes Hurley from the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute, and Kim Ward from the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office led participants through a number of Civil Scenario Case Studies, resulting in breakout sessions that allowed participants to discuss each case in detail.
- Panelists William Illecki, Esq., of Illecki & Ostrowski, LLP; Dan Grasso, Esq., of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office; and Scott Morris, Esq., from Tromberg, Morris & Poulin, PLLC answered questions about changes to the Consumer Debt Interest Law and litigation actions, an issue facing all Civil Divisions in their daily routine operations.
Learn about upcoming NYSSA conferences and events by visiting our Training & Events calendar.
The City of Plattsburgh Common Council recently approved the appointment of former Warren County Sheriff Nathan “Bud” York (pictured) as the provisional Police Chief for the city’s Police Department.
Sandy Hook Summary — Carly Posey, Mission Director of the I Love You Guys Foundation in Parker, CO, provides an hour-by-hour depiction of the events that took place on December 12, 2012, with two of her children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Both her children survived the onslaught and have had subsequent years of therapy.
Secret Service Sources — Michael Kapuscinski, at podium, of the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, breaks down profile statistics associated with school shooters. At right are agents Jeff McGarry and Kristy Dominguez, who also presented detailed information during the session.
Don’t Just Do Your Best, Do What’s Required — John Curnutt is Assistant Director of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) at Texas State University. He exhorted SROs and SRDs to review regularly their perceptions and practices to meet the challenges of armed conflicts in today’s world.
Remembering the Columbine 13 — Frank DeAngelis, former Principal at Columbine High School, starts his presentation “Any Given Day – Leadership Lessons from Columbine and Beyond,” by recalling the 13 people who died on April 20, 1999. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them,” reflected DeAngelis.
Rounding Out the File
June 11, 2020
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR:
We need more leadership, and less rhetoric.
Dear Governor Cuomo:
During times of chaos and division, uncertainty and unrest, tension and suffering, we look to our leaders to help guide the ship. We look to our leaders to bring clarity, solutions, resolve, action, and healing. At the same time, we trust that our leaders will stoically stand for what’s right, for truth and for the good of all.
Governor Cuomo, we call upon you today to stick to the facts. We call upon you to stop fanning the flames of division. We call upon you to stop exploiting anti-police hysteria and unwarranted political rhetoric to ram through legislation that is ill conceived, hastily crafted, and anti-police. We call upon you to involve all stakeholders in this process, and we call upon you to do what’s right.
The noble police officers of this State are suffering from your actions and your rhetoric, and ultimately all New Yorkers will suffer when, by your actions, our police agencies have been rendered unable to effectively pursue the guilty and protect the innocent.
For more than 40 years, anti-police activists have pushed for the repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-a which protects the police and other emergency responders from undue harassment, and safeguards the Peoples’ criminal cases from sabotage by unscrupulous defense attorneys. Each year, when repeal has been considered in the light of day, reason and logic have prevailed and the Legislature has rejected repeal. Now we find ourselves in a time when reason and logic are seemingly lost. As a result, you appear ready to “seize the moment” and stampede into law repeal of 50-a and a whole package of other anti-police legislation, without an opportunity for meaningful input and dialogue from all of the stakeholders. Not even the rank and file members of the Legislature have been afforded the opportunity to give these bills due consideration as they have been rushed through to a vote. A democratic legislative process requires transparency, due deliberation and leadership that can withstand the inflamed passions of the moment.
Governor Cuomo, your rhetoric and your refusal to speak up for the selfless police officers who, every day, put their lives at risk to defend those who are otherwise defenseless, is contributing to the irrational calls by a very vocal few to “Defund the Police.” This ideology is dangerous and, if accepted and acted upon, only serves to put our communities, our families, our neighbors and our public servants at greater risk.
Make no mistake; the potential for very dangerous and unsettling days ahead is real. In recent days there have been more than 80 burglaries of firearms dealers, with more than a thousand firearms stolen. Explosives are finding their way into the hands of anarchists. The violent agitators who have been hijacking peaceful demonstrations are being empowered by demagogues who refuse to acknowledge that their criminal acts are wrong. Their violent activities will not soon subside. If police departments are defunded, who will protect the majority of our citizens from the marauding few? This situation screams for leadership. We implore you to call for reason in this time of mindless rage. Your silence on this issue is contributing to the dismantling of society’s bulwark against anarchy.
Governor, before rushing to sign into law poorly vetted legislation that will put our police officers in grave danger, we implore you to consider the consequences of doing so. The overwhelming majority of police officers, firefighters, correctional workers, EMS providers and other public safety first responders are good and faithful servants. They do not condone the wrongdoing of any rogue cop. They serve ALL of the people of New York, without regard to race. They do so with concern and compassion for those they serve, even those who do not appreciate it, and do so despite the obvious risk to their own safety. Law enforcement officers across the country have been engaged for the past two weeks in protecting the peaceful protestors who have been protesting against them, in the course of which three police officers have been killed and 800 have been wounded. What other profession would expose themselves to such risks, and for such little gratitude? Governor, these good men and women deserve your active support, not harmful rhetoric nor punitive legislation.
Each year, a ceremony is held at the Police Memorial Wall in Albany where the names of New York’s 1,622 hero police officers killed in the line of duty are inscribed. There is a long tradition, spanning several decades, of every sitting Governor attending this annual, somber event; but you never have. Each year your own criminal justice agency coordinates the selection of the winner of the Governor’s Police Officer of the Year Award, recognizing an officer’s sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty. Here again, there is a long tradition of the Governor attending every such annual ceremony to pay respect to the honoree, but you have chosen not to follow that tradition. Governor Cuomo, your absence from these events is palpable and strongly felt by the law enforcement community each time they gather. There is a broad sense among law enforcement that you simply do not support police officers in this state. That lack of support is made evident once again by your failure to insist that law enforcement have a seat at the table when momentous changes in policing are being considered. This is the time we should be working together. Law enforcement officers could provide important insight that would insure that any desired changes in the system would actually be workable. We have seen too many examples in the last few years of criminal justice legislation being pushed through in the dark of night without the opportunity for scrutiny or input from law enforcement, resulting in disastrous, unworkable laws.
The time has come to hear each other, to support each other, and to work collaboratively to bring clear, transparent and fact-based information, ideas, and reforms forward. Let us work together to effect the positive change that we all wish to see, and let’s do so in a way that accomplishes our goals without endangering the police officers who already risk so much, or the communities that they serve.
Governor Cuomo, we need more leadership and less rhetoric.
Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy, President Chief Patrick D. Phelan, President
New York State Sheriffs’ Association New York State Association of Chiefs of Police