New York, NY – Two New York state assemblymen held a press conference on Wednesday morning and introduced legislation that would make it a felony for anyone to dump liquid on a police officer.
The proposal comes in the wake of multiple water attacks on New York Police Department (NYPD) officers across the city.
The legislation is cosponsored by New York State Assemblymen Mike LiPetri and Michael Reilly, of Long Island and Staten Island, respectively, and makes it a Class E Felony punishable by up to one to four years in prison to assault a police officer with liquid, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I stand before you today as a former member of the NYPD, and now a representative of the state legislature,” Reilly told reporters. “I served in that uniform. I was a police officer, I was a sergeant, and I was a lieutenant. And I can tell you without a doubt that these men and women who step out there to protect our cities do it because they care.”
“I understand the burden that lays upon their shoulders each time they strap on that vest, each time they put on that gun belt, and they proudly pin that shield to their shirt. It’s uncalled for, this behavior that actually demoralizes our communities,” the former police officer continued.
He called on the Democrats in City Hall and Albany, as well as New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio to stand up for law enforcement.
“They all talk about due process when it’s convenient for them,” Reilly accused. “When it’s a punchline… That’s the problem. That’s what led us to where we are today.”
The former police officer-turned-assemblyman accused the mayor of failing to do his job.
“That’s the problem. You know, Mayor De Blasio was elected to lead a city, not lead a movement. It’s time that we had some real leadership in City Hall. And we need to stand strong with our men and women in law enforcement,” Reilly said.
He called for bipartisan support of the legislation to prove the elected officials care about the safety of law enforcement officers.
“It’s time that we hold our elected officials accountable both here in the city and in Albany,” Reilly charged.
The assemblyman categorized the proposed law as a challenge for lawmakers to prove they support police.
“And let me remind you – when they stand up for law enforcement, they stand up for every law abiding citizen in this city,” Reilly said. “And if they don’t, they don’t have your back either. So let’s make sure we tell them, they better support this because it’s in the best interest of all of us.”
New York City’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) President Patrick Lynch called on De Blasio to tone down the rhetoric that was causing the streets of the city to heat up against the police department.
“If mopes will dump water over the head of New York City police officers, they’ll do it to everyone,” Lynch warned. “Remember these police officers were called to that scene because citizens of this city were being harassed. And because they did not have the support of City Hall, they didn’t know which way to turn. That if they grab someone and it doesn’t go well, that they’ll end up blamed and their lives and their livelihood will be in jeopardy.”
The union head also called on both sides of City Hall to “tone down that rhetoric.”
“You all reported on the street – there is an uneasy feeling,” Lynch said to reporters. “Crime is creeping up. Remember the days when we were able to say crime is down in all categories? Now we average it out and we say overall crime is down, but rape is up and shootings up – ya know, those violent crimes. That all goes into the mix of what New York City police officers are dealing with.”
Despite the lack of certainty about support from the city administration, the police union president called on officers to respond aggressively to future attacks on their fellow officers.
“So we have to send a message to stop it now,” Lynch said. “We’re asking our police officers, keep your ear to the radio. When those jobs come over, go there in force and back each other up. Respectfully. Constitutionally. But strongly.”
The he called on both sides of City Hall to re-evaluate where they’re taking the city, and to quickly make it a felony to menace or assault a police officer with water or any other kind of liquid.
“It might be a water bucket today, it might be a cement bucket tomorrow,” Lynch said, referencing a NYPD housing authority officer who was killed by a cement bucket.
The union chief said politicians in Albany have emboldened criminals with their recent criminal justice reforms.
“Today it’s water, tomorrow it’s lye,” Lynch warned. “And we have had lye thrown in officers’ eyes, and they’ve gone blind. So that’s why it has to be stern and we also have to make sure that our district attorneys prosecute, not like they do with Assault Two felonies on police officers.”
Lynch said prosecutors always dropped charges for assaults against him as an officer to misdemeanors.
“If we don’t hold them accountable – those that hurt our police officers – then how do we hold them accountable to protect our citizens?” he asked.
Lynch explained that the proposed law will be a will-arrest crime, meaning that suspects would not be issued tickets but would find themselves behind bars.
LiPetri, the bill’s cosponsor, called on legislators and the governor to support the legislation.
He said that if they actually support law enforcement like they said they do, they had to pass it.
Then the assemblyman challenged De Blasio to condemn the water attacks during the Democratic Presidential Debate on Wednesday night and show the support for law enforcement that he has claimed he feels.
New York State Association PBA President Michael O’Meara took the microphone angrily and did not hold back his frustration.
“When the hell did we lose our common sense?” O’Meara ranted. “When did we lose our common sense? When did it become okay to laugh and jeer and throw things at police officers who are working trying to protect our communities? When did it become okay?”
He said he couldn’t believe that they needed to pass legislation for something that should be so common sense.
“Who’s going to be a police officer anymore?” O’Meara asked. “We’re villainized, we’re demonized. Things are thrown at us. Do we want to live in this lawless society or do we want people to become police officers and be good honest hardworking citizens protecting the people of New York State?”
The union president said that police officers should have the same protection as lawmakers.
“If the politicians that say it’s okay, that say we shouldn’t have this legislation, had a bucket of water dumped over their head, what would they do?” he asked. “I have the answer. They would call their connections, they would call the brass in the NYPD and you know what they’d get? They’d get a response. They’d expect a response.”
O’Meara said police expect a response, too.
“Common sense says you don’t dump a bucket of anything on a police officer responding to an emergency call. And I say this – how dare you expect New York City police officers to accept what you won’t accept?” he asked.
The union boss said they shouldn’t listen to listen to people who weren’t in the city when crime was high and the subway was filthy and scary. He said the water bucket attacks on police were a sign the city was slipping.
“At the end of the day, New York cannot shackle its law enforcement, instead of its criminals. It’s time to reverse that trend,” LiPetri concluded the press conference.