Long Island elected officials and police are working to draft legislation "to deter violent acts against public safety professionals" in the wake of water bucket attacks against officers in New York City that were caught on video, officials said.
A coalition that included Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, state Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), Suffolk Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron and Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart gathered Sunday in Hauppauge to discuss legislation meant to thwart such attacks.
Several bills have been introduced in the State Legislature, including one sponsored by Sen. James Gaughran (D-Huntington) that defines and increases penalties for crimes committed against public protection professionals.
Brooks said he hopes to work with his colleagues in the Legislature to craft a “comprehensive” law with “realistic penalties” that would prohibit any liquid, gel, gas or vapor being hurled at a police officer or first responder. He said he hopes a bill could be ready when the Legislature resumes in January.
Bellone gave his support to a potential bill, noting the number of NYPD officers who live in Suffolk and Nassau. He stressed the danger officers face and cited NYPD officer Anthony Sanchez, who was killed while responding to a robbery in 1997 and NYPD Det. Peter Figoski, killed in the line of duty in 2011. Both men were from West Babylon, where Bellone lives, and where a playground was dedicated in Figoski’s memory on Saturday.
“An attack on any police officer is an attack on all police officers,” Bellone said.
The proposed legislation is a response to “several incidents where police officers were assailed with buckets and doused with water,” officials said in a statement.
Videos surfaced this month of police officers being soaked with water in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem.
In a Bronx attack, about a dozen men and women were captured on video hurling buckets of water at two female officers. The water damaged a police vest and cellphone, according to published reports. In the Harlem attack, an officer was hit in the back of the head with an empty bucket, officials said.
Three men have been arrested in connection with the incidents and are facing charges, including disorderly conduct and harassment.
“This kind of activity will not be tolerated and has to stop,” Brooks said. “We cannot allow first responders and law enforcement officers to have to think about the possibility that they are responding to an incident where someone is going to take some kind of action to make them look foolish or to see how they can find ways to interfere with their response.”