Acting Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti announced Wednesday that the Sheriff’s Association will be presenting New York State legislators with ten proposals to protect law enforcement and civilians in the area.
The proposals include:
- Increasing Resisting Arrest to a Class E felony
- Making Failure to Retreat a Class D felony
- Increase the levels of seriousness for assaulting a police officer by one degree, and making them crimes that require bail
- Make aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer a Class D felony
- Deem crimes against police officers because of their status hate crimes
- Make it a Class D felony to falsely accuse a police or peace officer of wrongdoing
- Make it a Class D felony to dox a police or peace officer because of their status
- Make it a Class E felony to stalk or surveille a police or peace officer with no legitimate purpose
- Provide a $500,000 benefit for police officers who are seriously injured or die in the line of duty
- Make May 15 a state holiday to honor police officers who have died in New York State. This also proposes holding an annual ceremony at the Police Memorial Wall in Albany on the Monday closest to May 1.
Filicetti said the goal of the proposals is to deter civilians from these crimes, and consequentially decrease police use of force. He used the increase of resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to Class E felony as an example:
“Let's raise the level of what that crime is and make people accountable,” Filicetti said. “And then, in turn, we're making the public more safe and we're also keeping our officers safe–if there's less incidents of resisting arrest and less incidents of use of force if there's some actual consequences for your actions.”
The announcement of the proposals comes in the wake of weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and incidents of alleged police brutality across the country and in Western New York.
However, Filicetti said these proposals are not a defensive move for the Sheriff’s department, but rather an olive branch to civilians to symbolize their openness to cooperation in order to promote police reform.
“I can stand with my law enforcement officers,” said Filicetti. “And I can also say that I stand against police officers that should not be police officers, and that we should work harder and make sure that racial injustice is not occurring, and [that] we can do some level of police reform to ensure that we can police our own. So I don't think you have to be on one side of this conversation or the other.”
He said the key to reform is building familiarity and trust between officers and the community.
“This isn't us versus them kind of a thing,” he said. “[We’ve] got to work together because we're in this together.”
The New York State Sheriff’s Association will be presenting Filicetti’s proposals to the state legislature for review.