Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed Tuesday to support law enforcement officials around New York and forcefully denounced calls to cut police budgets during a speech at an annual conference of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.
"The era of denigrating our police has to be over," Hochul said. "We support you 100% That includes funding. We'll always be funding our police officers."
Hochul indicated she will attend a memorial service for Tony Mazurkiewicz, the Rochester police officer killed in the line of duty last week.
"It's a reminder of the fragility of life and the sacrifies you are willing to make and your families are willing to make when you put on that uniform," she said.
Growing concerns over crime in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the issue front and center in the campaign season in New York.
Hochul's comments come as she is running for a full term in a year in which crime and public safety have been identified as key concerns for voters across virtually all demographics in New York. Her Republican opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin, has called for repealing laws that have largely ended cash bail in the state as well as rolling back other changes that had been sought by criminal justice reform advocates.
Progressive advocates have pushed back against making changes to the laws in the Democratic-dominated Legislature in Albany. But Hochul was able to secure some changes to the state's bail laws earlier this year, and has pointed to efforts to reduce gun violence.
Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin had supported defuncing police departments while a candidate for New York City comptroller. He resigned earlier this year amid federal bribery charges.
The governor in her remarks touted efforts to curtail violent crime, including a multi-state push to remove illegal guns from New York. She also repeatedly credited law endforcement with keeping New Yorkers safe.
"You are the front line out there from keeping us from descending into chaos," she said, adding, "I have said no one will ever say defund the police in my presence. That's not going to go anywhere. You're not going to make friends with me if you say that."