Sabine Margolis along with other advocates and residents gathered Monday outside...

Sabine Margolis along with other advocates and residents gathered Monday outside the Nassau County legislative offices in Mineola where they said deputizing and weaponizing private citizens is dangerous and unnecessary. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nearly two dozen Nassau residents appealed to the county legislature Monday for a hearing and vote on County Executive Bruce Blakeman's call for armed volunteers to serve as “provisional special deputy sheriffs” in the event of an emergency declaration.

In public comments, they spoke out against what has been nicknamed “Blakeman's militia,” submitted a petition with 2,120 signatures gathered over the past 10 days and put pressure, particularly on Republican lawmakers, to step in and examine the plan independently.

“Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, this body has a responsibility and authority to demand the county executive answer to your constituents,” Manhasset resident Karen Riordan told the lawmakers. “I want to know from you: Is this necessary? Are you concerned that the Nassau County police and our National Guard are not up to the task of maintaining order? Is there evidence to support this action? Where are the checks and balances?” 

Great Neck resident Nina K. Gordon told legislators she felt the plan was “done in the dark.” 

“If I remember correctly the legislature voted against adding additional police officers last year so why would we need armed citizens?” 

In a statement provided after the meeting, presiding officer Howard J. Kopel (R-Lawrence) said that because the “provisional special deputy sheriffs initiative falls under the County Executive's discretion … a hearing is not required. This is solely in preparation in the event of a dire emergency, which we hope will never need to be activated.” 

Blakeman, a Republican, in coordination with Sheriff Anthony LaRocco, last month posted a county flyer and placed a Newsday classified advertisement requesting county firearm owners ages 21 to 72 with law enforcement or military experience to volunteer to become “provisional special deputy sheriffs.” 

Blakeman, who did not respond Monday to a request for comment, has said the administration was vetting more than 100 applications. The first group of 25 volunteers are currently in training, which will be finished by the end of May.

Last week, Blakeman said volunteers would sign waivers releasing the county from liability and would be paid a $150 per day stipend. 

“Primarily their task would be to guard and protect government buildings, hospitals, utility plants, sewage treatment plants, churches, mosques and synagogues and things of that nature,” Blakeman said April 8.

The initiative has drawn criticism from the legislature's Democrats who joined an opposition rally last week of more than 100 residents and advocacy groups including the NAACP, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, New York Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women. 

Those opposed to the plan say it has created fear in communities of color and increases the chances of a gun accident that would expose the county and it's taxpayers to costly legal judgments. 

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) on April 12 sent a letter to Blakeman requesting more details about the vetting and training of the special deputies. 

“As a fiduciary of the County, it is in the interest of taxpayers for the Legislature to be appraised of all relevant data associated with the training of the individuals who are seeking certification as provisional special deputy sheriffs, as well as a breakdown of how each cost will be funded and what specific budget lines will be drawn upon to meet those costs,” according to the letter. 

Also Monday, legislators approved a resolution transferring $225 million of the county's $240 million surplus into a fund that would be used for unplanned expenditures such as legal settlements. 

County Budget Director Andrew Persich responded to the legislators' questions about the status of the distribution of funds from the settlement of a landmark lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors accused of contributing to addiction.

He said of the $92 million that has been received to date, the county has allocated $15 million and has spent $1.5 million.

Last year, Blakeman pledged $60 million to opioid treatment, prevention and education over four years. 

Nearly two dozen Nassau residents appealed to the county legislature Monday for a hearing and vote on County Executive Bruce Blakeman's call for armed volunteers to serve as “provisional special deputy sheriffs” in the event of an emergency declaration.

In public comments, they spoke out against what has been nicknamed “Blakeman's militia,” submitted a petition with 2,120 signatures gathered over the past 10 days and put pressure, particularly on Republican lawmakers, to step in and examine the plan independently.

“Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, this body has a responsibility and authority to demand the county executive answer to your constituents,” Manhasset resident Karen Riordan told the lawmakers. “I want to know from you: Is this necessary? Are you concerned that the Nassau County police and our National Guard are not up to the task of maintaining order? Is there evidence to support this action? Where are the checks and balances?” 

Great Neck resident Nina K. Gordon told legislators she felt the plan was “done in the dark.” 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nassau residents appealed to the county legislature Monday for a hearing and vote on plans for armed volunteers to serve as “provisional special deputy sheriffs."
  • Opponents say the legislature needs to do an independent examination of Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's plan.
  • County officials say the plan falls under the county executive's discretion so a hearing is not required.

“If I remember correctly the legislature voted against adding additional police officers last year so why would we need armed citizens?” 

In a statement provided after the meeting, presiding officer Howard J. Kopel (R-Lawrence) said that because the “provisional special deputy sheriffs initiative falls under the County Executive's discretion … a hearing is not required. This is solely in preparation in the event of a dire emergency, which we hope will never need to be activated.” 

Blakeman, a Republican, in coordination with Sheriff Anthony LaRocco, last month posted a county flyer and placed a Newsday classified advertisement requesting county firearm owners ages 21 to 72 with law enforcement or military experience to volunteer to become “provisional special deputy sheriffs.” 

Blakeman, who did not respond Monday to a request for comment, has said the administration was vetting more than 100 applications. The first group of 25 volunteers are currently in training, which will be finished by the end of May.

Last week, Blakeman said volunteers would sign waivers releasing the county from liability and would be paid a $150 per day stipend. 

“Primarily their task would be to guard and protect government buildings, hospitals, utility plants, sewage treatment plants, churches, mosques and synagogues and things of that nature,” Blakeman said April 8.

The initiative has drawn criticism from the legislature's Democrats who joined an opposition rally last week of more than 100 residents and advocacy groups including the NAACP, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, New York Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women. 

Those opposed to the plan say it has created fear in communities of color and increases the chances of a gun accident that would expose the county and it's taxpayers to costly legal judgments. 

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) on April 12 sent a letter to Blakeman requesting more details about the vetting and training of the special deputies. 

“As a fiduciary of the County, it is in the interest of taxpayers for the Legislature to be appraised of all relevant data associated with the training of the individuals who are seeking certification as provisional special deputy sheriffs, as well as a breakdown of how each cost will be funded and what specific budget lines will be drawn upon to meet those costs,” according to the letter. 

Also Monday, legislators approved a resolution transferring $225 million of the county's $240 million surplus into a fund that would be used for unplanned expenditures such as legal settlements. 

County Budget Director Andrew Persich responded to the legislators' questions about the status of the distribution of funds from the settlement of a landmark lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors accused of contributing to addiction.

He said of the $92 million that has been received to date, the county has allocated $15 million and has spent $1.5 million.

Last year, Blakeman pledged $60 million to opioid treatment, prevention and education over four years. 

SBU takes back housing offers … Cannonball train … Stunt pilot Ken Credit: Newsday

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SBU takes back housing offers … Cannonball train … Stunt pilot Ken Credit: Newsday

Man found guilty in death of cousin ... Air Show presser ... What's Trending ... FeedMe: New East End restaurant

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