Local protest groups speak out against new criminal justice legislation put forth by the Sheriff

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BINGHAMTON, NY – The Broome County Sheriff’s Office and a local protest group are butting heads over new criminal justice legislation being proposed by sheriffs statewide.

The New York State Sheriff’s Association proposed a package of bills earlier this month that its says would reemphasize the rule of law and compliance of state citizens.

One would change the charge of Resisting Arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony, that could not be reduced by plea bargaining, and would allow a judge to require the posting of bail.

The other would make Failure to Retreat a felony, meaning anyone who intrudes on an officer in a confrontation could be arrested.

Sheriff Dave Harder says he doesn’t understand why some people have a problem with the legislation.

“This Citizens for Action group, I don’t know where they are coming from. They want everything their way only. Nobody else can protest or have a say. Same thing with PLOT. If you don’t agree with PLOT, then you’re all wrong. It’s like a dictatorship with those two groups. If you don’t speak the way they want you to, then you’re wrong,” says Harder.

The Sheriff’s Association also wants to increase protections for deputies and other officers, making Assault on a Police Officer a larger crime than it already is.

Last week, 4 local progressive groups formed The People’s Protection Plan Coalition and held a news conference to criticize the sheriffs’ proposals.

They are Citizen Action, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier, Progressive Leaders Of Tomorrow and Truth Pharm.

Andy Pragacz of JUST says the proposals create a false narrative that the people are the problem.

“The things that actually kill police officers are, to be clear, are their patrol cars, fellow officers, heart attacks, and suicide. 10 police officers in the State of New York, in the N-Y-P-D alone, killed themselves last year. Not only are they creating a false problem, but they’re not even considering the real problem,” says Pragacz.

The People’s Protection Plan Coalition is planning protests in the 5 counties whose sheriffs appeared at a recent news conference promoting the legislation.

A march was held in downtown Binghamton yesterday.

Rallies are planned at the Chenango County Courthouse in Norwich at 6 P-M Wednesday, the

Delaware County Jail in Delhi 6 P-M Thursday, the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego 4 P-M Friday and the Cortland County Courthouse at noon on Saturday.

You can see full press releases from both groups below.

From the Sheriff’s Office:

Sheriffs of New York State Call for Legislature’s and Governor’s Support of Law Enforcement

In a series of coordinated press conferences, New York State Sheriffs presented a number of legislative proposals aimed at protecting law-enforcement personnel and the public they serve.  These proposals were the result of weeks of conversations among Sheriffs about the recent confrontations between police and the public across the nation.

“Officers are trained in de-escalation, but that requires cooperation on both sides,” noted State Sheriffs’ Association President Jeffrey Murphy, Washington County Sheriff. “An officer’s split-second reaction to a perceived threat perhaps may later be thought all wrong.  There is a time and place to question an officer’s actions, but not in the middle of the street when the officer is under pressure to control a situation on behalf of the public’s safety.”

Two of the ten legislative proposals presented include increasing the felony level for those who resist arrest and for those who fail to retreat or halt when ordered by a police officer.  Another six proposals address related crimes against officers such as assault, aggravated harassment, criminal doxing and stalking of officers.

Additionally, Sheriffs encouraged the legislature to recognize and highlight the work done by law-enforcement personnel by passing a $500,000 disability and death benefit and designating May 15 of each year as a state holiday – Police Memorial Day – to honor the more than 1,500 officers who have died in the line of duty to New York State.

“We call upon the Legislature and the Governor to enact these proposals in recognition of the sad fact that, in the performance of their difficult and dangerous work, too many of police officers lose their lives,” said President Murphy.

Regional press events were held in Albany, Oneida, Ontario, Broome and Niagara counties.

From The People’s Protection Plan Coalition:

(Binghamton, NY) The People’s Protection Plan Coalition (Citizen Action of the Southern Tier, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier, Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, Truth Pharm, and representatives from organizations from Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, Delaware, and Tompkins counties) will respond to the dangerous package of legislation proposed by the New York State Sheriff’s Association (NYSA) and supported by several Southern Tier county sheriffs at a July 15th press conference.

Coalition members are outraged and saddened by our elected sheriffs’ callous, tone-deaf, and dismissive reply to local and national demands to value Black life and respect the right of free speech and assembly.

The sheriffs’ agenda calls for a vast expansion of police power, limiting oversight of police, and punishing people who rightfully call attention to police misconduct.

The sheriffs’ legislative package attempts to make police into street judges, juries, sentencers, and executioners, with a greater autonomy to arrest, incarcerate, and kill anyone they see fit, without consequence.

If passed, it will put the lives and civil liberties of New York State residents in grave danger and further harm Black and other communities of color. 

At the press conference, the People’s Protection Plan Coalition will present the plan for a series of actions across the Southern Tier, detailed rebuttals of the NYSA’s plan, and the creation of a People’s Protection Plan.

Members of coalition groups will speak to the dangers presented in the legislative demands and counter the falsehoods on which they are based.

This coalition and the actions it will undertake are another step in the creation of an anti-racist society that can address community issues in healthy and empowering ways. 

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