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Sheriffs call for changes to state laws to protect public, officers

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Sheriffs and undersheriffs hold news conference to propose legislative changes.
Broome County Sheriff's Office holds joint news conference

Broome County Sheriff holds proposes legislation for the saftey of law enforcement with Tioga, Chenango, Delaware, Cortland and Tompkins county sheriffs.

Posted by WBNG 12 News on Wednesday, July 15, 2020

TOWN OF DICKINSON (WBNG) -- Speaking for more than 40 minutes Wednesday morning at the Broome County Sheriff's Office, sheriffs and undersheriffs from multiple counties demanded the governor and legislature to change state laws to protect "the public and the force".

Before announcing 10 legislative proposals, Broome County Sheriff David Harder opened by accusing "many politicians and community activists, and some in the media" of creating an environment that "excuses, or even glamorizes, resistance to lawful authority."

The sheriffs said they are unhappy with the fallout of New York State's bail reform, passed in 2019.

The Southern Tier's chief law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with the New York State Sheriff's Association, made the following recommendations:

  • Resisting Arrest: To make resisting arrest a Class E Felony, which cannot be reduced by plea bargaining, and make it an offense for which a judge could require the posting of bail
  • Failure to Retreat: To make it a Class D felony for any person to approach or remain within 25 feet of a police officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties when such person is ordered by a police officer to halt or retreat and such person fails to immediately do so
  • Assault on a Police Officer: To increase the level of seriousness by one degree for the following crimes regarding the assault on a police officer
    • Change Assault in the Second Degree, causing a peace or police officer physical injury, to a Class C Felony
    • Change Assault on a Peace Officer, Police Officer, Firefighter or Emergency Medical Services Professional, causing serious physical injury, to a Class B Felony
    • Change Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer or Police Officer, causing serious physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, to a Class A Felony
  • Aggravated Harassment of a Police or Peace Officer: To make it a Class D Felony for a person to cause, or attempt to cause, any police officer or peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties to be struck by any substance or object including, but not limited to, bottles, rocks, bodily fluids, spittle, urine, seminal fluid, feces, flammable liquids or other noxious, hazardous or dangerous substances or objects
  • Hate Crime Against a Police Officer: Make any crime committed against a police officer because of his or her status as an officer a hate crime, with a concomitant increase in penalty, as is currently provided with respect to hate crimes against members of other protected groups
  • Aggravated Offering a False Accusation Against a Police Officer: To make it a Class D Felony to falsely accuse an officer of wrongdoing in the performance of his or her duties, and create a private right of civil action for the officer against the false accuser
  • Criminal Doxing of a Police Officer or Peace Officer: To make it a Class D Felony to dox a police officer or peace officer because of the officer's status as a police or peace officer, or to dox any other person because of that person's relationship to, or affiliation with, a police or peace officer
  • Stalking a Police or Peace Officer: To make it a Class E Felony to follow or surveille a police or peace officer for no legitimate purpose, whether such officer is on or off duty, or to approach within 100 yards of the private residence or place of lodging of a police officer, without the consent of said officer, for reasons related to the officer's status or service as a police or peace officer, or for the purpose of intimidating the officer of the officer's family

Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting said similar news conferences would be happening across New York State.

The New York State Sheriff's Association also requested two other changes, one calling for a state holiday in honor of officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The other measure, if approved, would provide a $500,000 benefit for officers who are seriously disabled or die from injuries incurred in the line of duty.

During the news conference, Sheriff Harder and Delaware County Sheriff Craig Dumond said they frequently inform the public that many people they have arrested are released to the public as part of the state's bail reform legislation.

Congresswoman Donna Lupardo weighing in Wednesday telling 12 News that "the goal of good public policy is to strike a balance so our values of respect, justice, and fair play apply equally to everyone." She went on to say, "I am open to reviewing any legislation the sheriffs have proposed.”


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