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‘Defund’ pushback as NY Republicans push stronger, pro-cop laws

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ALBANY — State Senate Republicans slammed their Democratic counterparts for creating a “dangerous” environment for New Yorkers by kowtowing to the “Defund the Police” movement with cuts to law enforcement budgets and so-called progressive policies like bail reform, unveiling a package Tuesday of pro-cop bills.

“Just recently, you saw a 4 year old was shot in the middle of the day in Times Square … I had never thought that I was in any sort of danger walking around Times Square. Seemed like every corner of every intersection, there was one or two cops,” said Republican Minority Leader state Sen. Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) during an Albany press conference.

“The last several times I’ve been down there, I have not seen that same level of police presence.” 

He said the week’s Times Square shooting is not surprising, given the reported spike in City crime — particularly shootings — and can be directly traced back to policies passed by the Democratic-led Legislature since they took control in 2018, and need to be scaled back. 

Robert Ortt
State Sen. Rob Ortt said he has seen a diminishing police presence around Times Square.
Hans Pennink

Albany Democrats have approved a series of laws including bail and discovery overhauls, as well as long-stalled police accountability legislation following last summer’s massive protests that swept the nation after the death of George Floyd.  

Floyd’s death promoted national fervor in the ‘Defund the Police’ movement, and in New York, a billion dollars was cut from the NYPD department budget. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo even added a state budget requirement ordering local police departments to submit plans aimed at improving community relationships, or else lose funding. 

“A dangerous job has become more dangerous because of the rhetoric and policies here in Albany, and beyond,” said Ortt.

“Since 2019, it’s been clear to most New Yorkers that the scales of justice in our state have tipped heavily in favor of violent criminals — and at the expense of our courageous law enforcement, as well as the men and women they are sworn to protect and serve. Bail reform has been a disaster. Our police are under constant attack. Murders and other violent crimes in many of our big cities have gone through the roof.”

A dozen bills — either newly introduced or amended by lawmakers — include measures that would strengthen penalties for assaulting a police officer and another that would make it a hate crime to attack a police officer simply because of their profession.

Another new measure sponsored by state Sen. Alexis Weik (R-Suffolk) who is married to a cop, called the “defund the municipalities that defund the police act” and would trigger a reduction in state funding should a municipality vote to reduce their local police department budget.

Republicans used crime as a cudgel against Democrats during their recent 2020 campaigns — in both statewide and congressional races — targeting opponents perceived as vulnerable in suburban or rural districts, where voters tend to be more moderate compared to city-voters.

Alexis Weik
New York Republicans, including state Sen. Alexis Weik, have ripped police reform measures passed by Democrats, saying it has lead to a jump in crime and a decrease in safety.
Hans Pennink

Although early polling results showed GOP candidates surging ahead, mail in ballot results proved the tactics had slim impact.

Nonetheless, the party intends to make the issue a dominant one during the upcoming 2022 gubernatorial race.

A representative for the state Senate Democrats could not be reached for immediate comment.

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Janice Hill

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