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Letts: Dem Governor’s Waffling Is Putting Police Officers’ Lives in Danger

Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock, in this case, is the rising crime rate in her state that voters are demanding come down. Bringing it down requires more than strong words — it requires action. The needed action is enough police and prosecutors who are willing to enforce New York’s laws. The hard place is the activists, media and members of the Democratic Party who want to turn police into the criminals (the only criminals the left seems to want to prosecute, by the way). In her latest demonstration of that quandary, Hochul is refusing to take a stand on whether police officers should have qualified immunity. Qualified immunity for police protects officers from prosecution in civil lawsuits unless they violate established law. It protects individual officers from being sued as a form of revenge from criminals. New York City eliminated qualified immunity for the New York Police Department in 2021, but several similar measures introduced in the state Legislature have died in committee this year. Hochul suggested that she favored eliminating qualified immunity in answers to a questionnaire she submitted to the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club before the Democratic primary in June. She said she “supports efforts to increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement.” The New York Post asked the governor for clarification. A spokesperson said only that Hochul “will review the legislation if it passes both houses.” When asked whether she would sign such legislation, the spokesperson would not answer directly. Hochul’s challenger in the fall election, Lee Zeldin, and National Police Foundation president Michael Palladino have both called out Hochul’s waffling on the issue. “Stripping cops of qualified immunity spells even more trouble for innocent, law-abiding New Yorkers because it discourages cops from engaging on the public’s behalf while encouraging an already emboldened criminal population,” said Palladino, the former head of the NYPD detectives’ union. “The cops need the leeway. They’re good Samaritans and they need the leeway to intervene, to make good-faith mistakes and they need that more than ever now as cities are in crisis across the state of New York,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD cop and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Hochul’s waffling puts officers’ lives in danger. Officials are telling the police through their actions that they won’t support them. Criminals have received the message, and crime is increasing, particularly in New York City. The criminals don’t fear the police because they know they will be released if arrested. Is it any wonder so many officers are retiring or resigning? They are telling politicians and activists that they won’t risk their lives for people who are showing they just don’t care about the police. They know that the government doesn’t have their backs. Unlike Hochul, Zeldin said, “Our amazing men and women in blue should be allowed to do their jobs without having to second guess themselves all day long, worrying that anyone and everyone they cross paths with may sue them personally for anything.” Unfortunately, in a deep blue state like New York, he is unlikely to be elected because he is supported by the wrong blue. In a time when the state’s crime rate is increasing, residents need protection. They need elected officials who are on their side. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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