Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is joining forces with elected officials and SCPD to draft legislation that enhances penalties for similar attacks on police.
HAUPPAUGE—Officials announced on Monday, July 29, plans to draft legislation to help “deter violent acts against public safety officials.” The move, officials say, is in response to recently surfaced videos that showed New York City police officers being drenched with water and pelted with buckets.
The local officials pushing for the move include Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County district attorney Timothy Sini, New York State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), Suffolk County police commissioner Geraldine Hart and Suffolk County police chief Stuart Cameron.
Brooks hopes to craft a “comprehensive” law with “realistic penalties,” not only because of the recent water-bucket attacks, but also the “troubling environment we find ourselves in.” Brooks said he’s particularly worried about “copycat incidents” looking for social media hits, as well as the “preoccupying mental burden” for first responders who, according to Brooks’s team, “already have enough procedural and safety concerns” when responding to a call.
He hopes a potential bill, which would prohibit any liquid, gel, gas, or vapor being thrown at police officers or first responders, could be prepared when the state Legislature returns in January.
“First responders need to focus on the nature of the call they are responding to… not divert their attention to having to think about the nonsense we saw last week,” said Brooks, a Long Island firefighter for over 30 years and former fire chief.
According to reports, several related bills have already been introduced in the state Legislature. One of them, sponsored by Sen. James Gaughran (D-Huntington), defines and increases penalties for crimes against public safety officials.
Bellone called the water-bucket incidents “very disturbing” and voiced his support for the potential bill. “An attack on a police officer is an attack on all police officers, and attacks on police officers represent attacks on all of us, on public safety, on the rule of law,” he said.
The county executive also noted the high number of New York City police officers who live on Long Island and recalled two members of the NYPD, officer Anthony Sanchez and detective Peter Figoski, who were killed in the line of duty in 1997 and 2011, respectively.
Both individuals lived in West Babylon, where Bellone also resides.
One of the incidents shown in the recent videos mentioned above occurred in Harlem, where a police officer is hit in the head with a red plastic bucket after he and his partner are doused with water while arresting a suspect.
The second video occurred in Brooklyn and shows two officers getting doused with water, repeatedly, while walking down the street. Both videos feature onlookers laughing and, in some cases, cheering on the perpetrators as the incidents are carried out.
NYPD chief of department Terence Monahan has since called the videos “reprehensible.” He also asked officers to use discretion, “make arrests when necessary,” and urged them to stay safe.
“NYC’s cops and communities have made remarkable progress – together – but every New Yorker must show respect for our cops,” Monahan continued. “They deserve nothing less.”
Authorities have since released photos of 15 people suspected to be involved in the incidents. Four people have also been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and harassment in connection with the incidents.
Both videos were originally posted on different Instagram accounts, but were eventually reposted on a Twitter account focusing on New York City emergencies, according to reports. The Twitter videos got more than 60,000 views each, within the first five minutes of being posted.
A third video was shared on Monday, the same day as the local officials’ announcement, showing a group of men repeatedly throwing buckets of water at a woman while trying to speak with NYC police officers who were inside their SUV. The officers appear to stay in the vehicle while the incident occurs. The exact location is unknown.