ALBANY — Facing heavy pressure from New York City Mayor Eric Adams to hold a special legislative session to tackle changes to the cashless bail law, Governor Hochul said Tuesday that ‘She expects any changes to the criminal justice system will have to wait until 2023.
Adams, who like Hochul is a Democrat, argued that changes are needed in state law to ensure the public is protected from violent offenders charged and minors arrested for serious offenses.
A former police officer and former state senator, Adams told reporters that New York has become “the laughingstock of the country” due to criminal laws that result in the immediate release of suspected perpetrators upon arrest.
Earlier Tuesday, Hochul, speaking to members of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, defended amendments to the bail law during the session that ended in april.
Hochul saw that law enforcement now had “more opportunities to arrest repeat offenders, noting that property thefts, gun violence cases and hate crimes are all eligible for bail.
“We have also given more power to our judges” to detain defendants charged with serious crimes, she added.
But even though Hochul was inclined to send lawmakers back to the statehouse to address criminal justice concerns, Democratic leaders in the Senate and House have shown no appetite for making further changes to the law on criminal justice. bail, although hopeful GOP Governor Lee Zeldin has urged an end to what he calls the current “catch and release” system.
In a display of the political fissures sparked by the bail controversy, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, fired a direct shot at Adams. “It’s sad that Mayor Adams has joined the ranks of the right-wing that so crudely demagogues this issue,” Gianaris said.
Hochul had started the day by promising police chiefs that she would consult with them on public security policy decisions.
“I believe there has been a gap for years to make sure the voices of law enforcement are there when we talk about policies that affect what you do every day,” the governor said.
Some law enforcement officials have complained that the Hochul administration froze them on recent legislation to tighten gun licenses as well as changes to bail and evidence discovery rules requiring prosecutors to quickly turn over the files to the defense lawyers.
“No one will ever say the words ‘Defund The Police’ in my presence,” Hochul told the Glens Falls chiefs. “You’re not going to become friends with me if you say that.”
As Hochul sought to distance himself from the Defund the Police movement, his critics questioned his sincerity, noting that his first lieutenant governor, former senator Brian Benjamin, openly supported the cause before resigning after his arrest on corruption charges. . One of Hochul’s top aides, Undersecretary for Intergovernmental Affairs Amit SIngh Bagga, backed the Defund the Police movement during an unsuccessful bid for a local office in New York last year.
State Conservative Party Leader Jerry Kassar said Hochul’s warm statement about the cops suggests Zeldin is gaining ground in the race with the bail issue.
“What we’re seeing is a classic example of triangulation, but it’s not as masterful as (former president) Bill Clinton because it’s constantly tripping over itself,” Kassar said. “People understand what she’s doing.”
Kassar said if Hochul was sincere about giving law enforcement a seat at the table in her administration, she would appoint retired police chiefs to the state parole board. “The parole board, as it stands now, is left-wing to very left-wing. It has no balance.”
Patrick Phelan, executive director of the association of chefs, said he welcomes the overtures made by Hochul to the group and looks forward to the chefs being consulted on policy options.
“It’s not that we’re going to tell anyone what to do, but our input should be taken into account because we have valuable law enforcement experience and knowledge,” Phelan said. . “It would be beneficial in the legislative process to give us a place at the table”
Contacted in Delhi, Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond said time will tell if Hochul follows through on the commitments she made on Tuesday. “I come from the old school where actions speak louder than words,” DuMond said.
He said many gun owners in his area remain annoyed with Hochul for pushing through a law that restricts gun ownership.
“Republicans, Democrats and white people (independent voters) are outraged, and if every registered gun owner goes to the polls in November, it could be fried,” DuMond said.