The leaders of some local law enforcement agencies are saying their departments will not make arrests for violations to the controversial harassment law that was passed last week.
The bill would make it a crime to harass a first responder if someone intentionally engages in conduct to annoy, alarm, or threaten their safety. It would be punishable by either jail or a fine up to $5,000.
Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary had this to say:
“As Chief, I believe it to be in the best interest of our members to not take any enforcement action on the Local Law until such time that the courts make a judicial opinion on this legislation,” Singletary said in a statement. “The New York State Penal Law currently allows criminal charges to be lodged against a person that subjects any First Responder to conduct that constitutes violent of criminal behavior.”
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter released a statement on Wednesday saying the law is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
"After careful analysis and discussion with union leadership, I have decided no member of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office shall make an arrest for violation of this law. If and when this law is validated through judicial review, we can revisit the efficacy of enforcing this statute."
Many in opposition of the law said it could add to an existing issue of mistrust and suspicion between communities of color and law enforcement.
Jesse Sleezer, Monroe County spokesman, said there is no plan to rescind the law. He said when the proposal was first presented to local law enforcement in October, there was no opposition.
"If law enforcement has made a determination that it is not in their best interest to enforce those laws at this time, that's a decision that we certainly respect. Would not disagree with whatsoever," said Sleezer.