State sheriffs propose legislative changes to better protect law enforcement

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office joined other agencies across the state Wednesday to present legislative proposals to better protect law enforcement.

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 2:42 PM
Updated: Jul 15, 2020 5:43 PM

ORISKANY, N.Y. – The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office joined other agencies across the state Wednesday to present legislative proposals meant to better protect law enforcement.

Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol says he and other members of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association have been discussing how to address the increasing number of confrontations between police and the public over the past several weeks.

They have come up with 10 legislative items aimed at protecting law enforcement and the public, including increasing penalties for assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.

“We want to make the lives of our police officers safer while they're doing their jobs, so they, in turn, can keep the community safer. Like any other career, we are not perfect. Police officers make mistakes. Police officers need to be held accountable when they make mistakes. But, at the same time, we've got to be given the tools to do our job and we can't have our hands tied," said Maciol.

Below are details on the legislative proposals:

1.) Resisting arrest: 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.

2.) Failure to retreat: 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 the person fails to immediately do so.

3.) Assault on a police officer: Increase the level of seriousness by one degree for the current crimes pertaining to assault upon a police officer.

4.) Penal Law § 120.05(3) - Assault in the second degree, causing a peace or police officer physical injury, should become a class C felony.
Penal Law § 120.08 - Assault on a peace officer, police officer, firefighter or emergency medical services professional, causing serious physical injury, should become a class B felony.
Penal Law § 120.11 - Aggravated assault on a peace officer or police officer, causing serious physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument should become a class A felony.

5.) Aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer: 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.

6.) Hate crime against a police officer: Make any crime committed against a police officer because of his or her status as a police officer a hate crime, with an increase in penalty, as is currently provided with respect to hate crimes against members of other protected groups.

7.) Aggravated offering a false accusation against a police officer: Make it a Class D Felony to falsely accuse a police officer or peace 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.

8.) Criminal doxing of a police officer or peace officer: Make it a Class D Felony to dox, meaning publish private information about, 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.

9.) Stalking a Police or Peace Officer: 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 or the officer’s family.

10.) a.) Disability and Death Benefit: Provide a $500,000 benefit for police officers who are seriously disabled or die from injuries incurred in the line of duty, in recognition of the high-risk occupation of a police officer, in order to provide some measure of security for the future for the officer and his or her family should the officer be disabled or killed in protecting the public.

b.) Police Memorial Day: Make May 15 a State holiday in honor of the more than 1,567 police officers who have died in the line of duty in New York, and require the State Division of Criminal Justice Services to annually organize a fitting memorial ceremony at the Police Memorial Wall at the Empire State Plaza in Albany on the Monday falling closest to May 15. Also, require the governor to appear in person at such ceremony to say aloud, in tribute, the names of the police officers who died during the previous year from injuries incurred in the line of duty.

Maciol says he has not yet spoken with legislators about these proposals. The state legislature would have to review and pass the laws before they could be implemented.

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