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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Long Island politicians wade into NYPD water controversy

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in Washington, D.C., on

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in Washington, D.C., on June 11. Credit: Getty Images / Zach Gibson

Last week’s viral videos of water being dumped on NYPD officers took place very much within the city limits, but some Long Island politicians didn’t take too long to weigh in on the still-kicking controversy. 

Rep. Lee Zeldin tweeted that Mayor Bill de Blasio should “Emphatically and publicly tell the knuckleheads to knock this crap off,” while fellow Republican Pete King posted “mob mentality must be condemned. Anti-police rhetoric must stop.”

Then there were the calls for legislation, with Assemb. Mike LiPetri’s push to make it a Class E felony to “throw or spray water, or any other substance, against an on-duty police officer or peace officer,” punishable by up to 1 to 4 years in prison. 

Some Democrats were not to be outdone. State Sen. John Brooks, who has first-responder experience as a firefighter, held a news conference on Sunday with Suffolk and Nassau County Executives Steve Bellone and Laura Curran to announce plans “to work together in developing comprehensive statewide legislation to deter violent acts against public safety professionals and first responders of any sort.” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart also joined. 

State Sen. Jim Gaughran was already prepared for the incidents in a way, having introduced legislation last session (before the viral videos) to strengthen penalties for crimes against all public protection professionals. 

Why all the Long Island attention for a city issue? NYC police unions have been extremely vocal about the water dumps and what they see as a police force compelled to be too cautious in a time when aggressive policing has come in for political criticism. Besides, plenty of NYPD officers live in Nassau or Suffolk and their fellow PBA organizations here know how to use their leverage. 

And the videos are fodder for hot-button partisan political issues of the moment about policing, race relations, and the livability (past and future) of America’s cities. No surprise, then, that President Donald Trump tweeted from afar about the water, too. 

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