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OPINION: In Albany, Public Safety Must be a Priority in 2022

By Will Barclay


The start of 2022 offers us many opportunities to change the way we do things. In New York state, a number of issues need to be addressed as we begin the New Year. At the top of that list are the dangerous criminal-justice policies that continue to put the public and the law-enforcement community at risk.   

During [her recent] State of the State Address, Gov. Kathy Hochul again failed to acknowledge that years of misguided liberal policies have made life easier for career criminals, and more difficult for law-enforcement agencies. Most recently, the newly-sworn-in district attorney in Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, has announced his office will no longer prosecute certain crimes. Among the crimes now permissible in his jurisdiction are resisting arrest, theft of services, and obstructing governmental administration.

Bragg should not be allowed to hold his office. It’s that simple. Police officers in New York City now must carry out their jobs with the knowledge that crimes won’t be fully prosecuted, and laws won’t be enforced. Suspects they are trying to arrest are now allowed to fight back. It is unacceptable by any legal standard.

At a time when New York state is becoming less safe, we should be doing everything in our power to protect the officers who protect us. The near elimination of bail, lowering thresholds for criminal responsibility, and lackadaisical parole policies were bad enough. Now we have prosecutors refusing to prosecute crime.

Consider the rise in violent crime that has taken place since the progressive wing of the state legislature has taken control of the criminal-justice system. In Albany, for example, the number of individuals killed by gun violence between 2019 and 2021 has risen 700 percent. In Rochester, the number of those killed by gun violence during that same period is up 174 percent. The number of shooting victims in New York City has doubled, while gun incidents causing injury in Buffalo rose 105 percent.

Further, according to recently-released statistics, in the first year of New York’s new bail policies, there were thousands of people who were arrested on criminal charges that normally would have been held with bail who were instead released — then were immediately rearrested on violent felony charges. Consider individuals like the person cited in a Times Union article who broke into a woman’s home, multiple times, violated an order of protection, assaulted her, struck her with a pan and choked her and was released after each incident until finally being held on bail nine months later. What do you call an order of protection that doesn’t protect anyone?

 Record numbers of New Yorkers have left in the past year, and when the quality of life is compromised by issues like crime, it only accelerates the exodus. Democrat decision-makers have shown a willful disregard for the importance of public safety. These laws need to be changed immediately. New Yorkers simply should not be subjected to the level of danger liberal Democrats have put them in.        

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. 

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