BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – New York sheriffs gathered across the state Wednesday to announce a set of proposals they said are intended to keep law enforcement personnel safe.
Sheriffs and undersheriffs from Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Delaware and Cortland Counties met at the Broome County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the proposals, drafted in conjunction with the New York Sheriffs’ Association.
Among the initiatives were measures that would make resisting arrest or following an officer Class E felonies. Other proposals serve to increase the degree of seriousness of crimes pertaining to the assault of police officers and classify all crimes committed against police “because of their status as a police officer” hate crimes.
“Unfortunately, many politicians and community activists, and some in the media, have fostered an attitude toward the police which excuses, or even glamorizes, resistance to lawful authority,” said Broome County Sheriff David Harder.
The proposals come just weeks after the state passed a package of police reforms to increase transparency and hold officers accountable in the wake of national protests on police brutality and calls to defund and reform the police. In June, Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted a bill repealing civil rights law 50-a, which has been used by police forces to shield disciplinary records from the public.
Under the changed law, police departments are required to give members of the public and journalists access to disciplinary records, as well as transcripts and final dispositions of disciplinary proceedings. Harder said that since the repeal of 50-a, the sheriff’s office has received requests for personnel records dating back decades. Broome County Undersheriff Eric Janis said many of those disciplinary files are hundreds of pages long.
Harder said the sheriff’s office is currently working at minimum staff and cannot meet the demand.
“We don’t have time to do all this stuff for whoever just wants to be nosy,” he said.
Harder said he is willing to give records to those with “legitimate purposes,” but said he does not see requests from activists groups in the Binghamton area, like Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier, Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow and Citizen Action, as legitimate.
“They have one thing on their mind,” Harder said. “There’s no dealing with them at all.”
Harder said he isn’t willing to speak with those groups, either, calling them unsensible.
“All they keep talking about is the people who died in the jail,” Harder said. “That has been beaten to death.”
The sheriffs present at Wednesday’s news conference opposed putting disciplinary records online for public access.
The legislative recommendation aimed to protect police from doxing by making it a Class D felony to dox an officer or any other person because of their relationship to a police officer.
Two of the sheriffs’ recommendations called upon lawmakers to recognize and compensate those who have been injured or killed in the line of duty through a $500,000 benefit and a police memorial day in May.
Broome County Sheriff David Harder said the state’s sheriffs will take up these measures with lawmakers in Albany.