Bidding for Albany support compromised by a Democratic sweep two years ago, a coalition of statewide police unions has endorsed a 15-candidate slate of Republicans for State Senate, including nine hoping to replace Senators who are either leaving office or retiring.
The endorsements, issued Sept. 25, followed those of six other Senate hopefuls nine days earlier.
In a brief statement from the Police Benevolent Association, the unions said the endorsements represent a pushback against the “anti-police, pro-criminal Democratic conference.”
‘Voice of Frustration’
Democrats regained their Senate majority two years ago for just the second time in 50 years, and currently enjoy a 40 to 21 majority. That solid advantage allowed the caucus to pass bail and discovery reforms over the past 18 months, changes that police and their unions blamed for a rise in certain crimes, including, in New York City, spikes in shootings and killings.
And the political tailwinds roused by widespread protests following George Floyd’s death during his arrest by Minneapolis police in May effectively sanctioned the June repeal of a law that denied public access to officers’ disciplinary records, despite strenuous efforts by the unions to keep the law on the books.
In addition to all five unions representing NYPD officers, the MTA Police Benevolent Association, the Nassau County PBA, the Suffolk County PBA and a group of state police associations form part of the endorsing coalition. Altogether they represent about 200,000 officers, including the 50,000 active and retired members of the city PBA.
The endorsements, though, are not likely to have much of an effect, according to Maria Haberfeld, a Professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, simply because police have historically been more conservative and typically vote Republican regardless.
'Looking for Respect'
“I don’t think it’s going to be significant,” she said. “At this point, they would endorse anybody who would give them some sort of respect and support, which they’re getting more from the Republican side than the Democratic side.”
With both elected officials and the public advocating for reforms, and even supporting “defunding” and even “dissolving” efforts, the endorsements are more a cry for recognition, she said, given that policing as a profession is “under tremendous stress right now.”
“It’s not about helping or not helping,” said Professor Haberfeld, a former Lieutenant with the Israeli National Police. “It’s a voice of frustration as an outcome of very aggressive anti-police sentiment that’s going on around the country.”
Sen. Phil Boyle, who has represented District 4 in Suffolk County since 2012 and survived the Democratic wave on Long Island two years ago that helped turn the Senate, was among the Republicans who received the coalition’s endorsement.
'Bail' Reversal a Priority
Saying that he was “truly honored” for the backing, Senator Boyle said that should Republicans retake the chamber, one of the first things they would take up would be the bail reform legislation passed and then amended by the Democrats this year.
He said more-considered legislation that would have addressed bail rules for just low-level, non-violent offenders “would have passed unanimously.”
“The far left,” however, hijacked any reasoned attempts at reform, Senator Boyle said, the result being that perpetrators of “serious violent crimes” are back on the streets soon after their arrests--an assessment widely shared by police and their unions.
“We’re with them 100 percent and also happy they are also behind us,” he said of police and his fellow Republican candidates. “I cannot think of a more difficult time in American history to be a law-enforcement official.”
Mr. Boyle, who unsuccessfully ran for Suffolk County Sheriff three years ago, is facing a challenge from former Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino.
Others Receiving Support
The unions also backed Mario Mattera, a business agent for a plumber's local running to replace retiring Sen. John Flanagan in Suffolk County’s District 2; David Franklin, a former Port Washington Police Commissioner, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Anna Kaplan for the District 7 Senate seat in Nassau County; Victoria Johnson, challenging Democratic incumbent Todd Kaminsky in District 9, also in Nassau; William Weber, running for the seat being vacated by Democratic incumbent David Carlucci in District 38 in Westchester County; Steve Brescia, who is seeking Democratic incumbent James Skoufis’s seat in District 39 in the Hudson Valley; and Sen. Sue Serino in District 41 in Dutchess County.
The unions also endorsed eight candidates running in upstate and western portions of the state, all for district seats being vacated by Republicans.
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