New York State Sheriffs’ Week is a chance to recognize the dedication, bravery and sacrifice of our local law enforcement officials, and consider everything they do to keep us safe.
The week is officially celebrated from Sunday, Sept. 19 to Saturday, Sept. 25, however it is always appropriate to thank the officers who protect our roads and keep our communities secure. Each day, we should appreciate the amount of work it takes to lead county law enforcement departments.
The responsibilities of a sheriff and their deputies are wide-ranging, and they have a hand in everything from traffic patrol to homeland security programs and even SWAT team operations. They risk their lives every day to serve the public, and they do it selflessly and with humility. For this, I would like to offer my most sincere gratitude.
During this week, it is also important to highlight how critical it is that our state, local and federal elected officials provide the needed support, be it financial or legislative, to their local law enforcement agencies.
Their work has become increasingly difficult. The obstacles facing law enforcement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened public unrest as well as the mental and physical aspects of the job pose challenges to their morale and well-being. We must take care of them just as they take care of us.
Unfortunately, continuous pro-criminal legislation under the guise of “reform” has made protecting law-abiding New Yorkers much more difficult. In addition to policies that undermine police work, the recently passed “Less is More” legislation has already begun to put even more dangerous criminals back on the street. The bill, signed last week by Gov. Hochul and painted as prison reform, ensures the release of prisoners serving time for “technical parole violations” and would prevent future violators from being returned to prison.
At a time when we are supposed to be supporting and celebrating our local sheriffs, we are instead forced to address yet another ill-conceived criminal justice policy that does more harm than good.
New York’s sheriffs, and law enforcement officers across the state, deserve better from their representatives. Instead of embracing measures that undermine public safety and legitimize the “defund the police” approach, New York Democrats should actively listen to what the law enforcement community has been asking for and think purposefully about how they can deliver the protection and support these officers truly require.
Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, is the Assembly Republican Leader.