Kevin McCaffrey, the Suffolk Legislature's top Republican, Tuesday called on County Executive Steve Bellone to fire or rescind the promotion of a high-level aide after she posted what McCaffrey called an "anti-police rant" on social media.
"I think there needs to be discussion of whether she should be fired, and clearly she should not be promoted," McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), head of the minority GOP caucus, said of administration aide Amy Keyes.
McCaffrey's criticism came a day after Newsday reported that Bellone had promoted Keyes from a $68,721-a-year county executive assistant to deputy commissioner of economic development and planning at a salary of $96,935. Keyes, 30, of East Patchogue, last fall ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Brookhaven Town Board.
In a Facebook posting on Nov. 25, following incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and on Staten Island in which suspects died in confrontations with police, Keyes wrote, "I am NOT OK living in a world where the police can do whatever they want. How can any of us be?"
McCaffrey issued a statement saying he was "truly disturbed" by the posting, which was removed shortly after it went up.
Citing the shooting deaths of two New York City police officers several weeks ago, McCaffrey, who has three New York City Police officers in his family, said, "This type of anti-police rhetoric serves only to put them more at risk and should not be rewarded by the county executive."
In a statement, Keyes said the posting on her personal Facebook page "did not reflect the strong support I feel for police."
Bellone, a Democrat, declined to be interviewed. But spokesman Justin Meyers said McCaffrey "has made it clear he is only interested in playing partisan politics. The county executive is busy running the county."
Bellone prominently featured another aide, Tim Sini, a potential McCaffrey opponent next fall, at a Hauppauge news conference on drug issues Monday.
McCaffrey said he first heard about Keyes' posting last month but did not raise the issue earlier because Keyes, who had regularly attended legislative meetings, stopped showing up. McCaffrey said he first saw the text of Keyes' posting Tuesday. "We all thought she was fired or demoted ... ," for her comments, he said.Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said, "As a retired police officer, I am shocked by Miss Keyes' comments, but not surprised," citing he calleda "long list of Bellone appointees with faulty judgment" and "misguided beliefs."
Noel DiGerolamo, president of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association, declined to comment, saying, "I am not going to politicize the death of police officers. For me to weigh into this dialogue would politicize it . . . "
DiGerolamo said he did not believe McCaffrey's statement was politically motivated, but said there was, "no doubt in my mind that the county executive wholeheartedly supports the Suffolk County Police Department and law enforcement in general."
He said Bellone stood with Suffolk police, rather than with politicians, at the funerals of both slain city officers. "Those actions speak much louder than words can," DiGerolamo said.
DiGerolamo said he received a personal call from Keyes last month shortly after her posting appeared. "She offered me an apology and offered an apology to the entire police department," DiGerolamo said. "I believe she was genuinely remorseful . . . and I assume her emotions at the time got the better of her judgment."
Keyes said she was "grateful that Noel accepted my apology."