Essay/Tom O'Mara: 'The Albany mindset refuses to see what’s happening'
The extreme Albany Democrat mindset refuses to see what’s happening all around us and that it can happen anywhere. Every day.
On the night of Thursday, July 21, in the city of Rochester, two police officers were ambushed and shot, an attack which took the life of Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, a 29-year veteran of the police force.
Rochester Police Chief David Smith would later say, “I was asked by the media, 'How dangerous is it out there for the officers of the Rochester Police Department?’ My response was that every day, the men and women of this department leave home, not knowing if they are going to return home at the end of their shift."
Earlier on the very same day that Officer Mazurkiewicz was murdered, at a campaign stop in Fairport, just outside of Rochester, Congressman Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor, was assaulted by an attacker who climbed onto the stage and lunged at the congressman’s neck attempting to stab him with a dangerous weapon. Zeldin and others responded quickly and wrestled the attacker to the ground before anyone was injured, but it could have been tragic.
Serious injury was only avoided by inches due to Zeldin’s quick reflex grabbing the attacker’s arm. I note that Zeldin is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Most others without that skill and training would have most certainly met a different fate, indeed serious injury or perhaps death.
What was (and is) tragic, is that the attacker was later released without bail – once again highlighting the dangerous and failed bail reform laws enacted by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, then-Lieutenant Governor and now Governor Hochul, and the state Legislature’s Democrat majorities in 2019 that have served as the flashpoint for the rise of lawlessness throughout this state.
Just last week, the release of shocking and disturbing video showing a violent attack on a New York Police Department Officer – yes, the attacker, a serial and violent repeat offender, was later released without bail – prompted New York City’s Democrat Mayor Eric Adams to join the call for a special legislative session to finally address failed bail reform, “I hope that just as we had a special call to return to Albany to deal with the [recent United States Supreme Court] ruling on right to carry [handguns], I believe that Albany should consider coming and revisiting some of the violence we’re seeing of repeated offenders. We need to be clear on that. We’re not talking about someone that steals an apple. We’re talking about someone that has repeatedly used violence in our city: robberies, grand larcenies, burglaries, shootings, carrying a gun. This group of people are repeated offenders in our community, and they’re hurting our public safety.”
They are not merely hurting public safety – and it’s not just in New York City, it’s throughout this state – they have emboldened this state’s criminal element.
Mayor Adams, who also said that New York has become “the laughingstock of the country” because of its ridiculous no-bail laws, echoed the recent call by me and all of my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly Republican conferences for just such a special session to finally admit, for starters, that the existing version of bail reform has failed. Worse, it has become a breeding ground for lawlessness, brazen criminality, and anti-police violence.
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “One-Party-Rule was quick to call a special session to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. If they actually care about the safety of all New Yorkers, they should be calling a special session to address the violent criminals breaking our laws. Last night, in just one evening, we tragically lost a Rochester police officer in the line of duty and there was a violent attack on Congressman Lee Zeldin. If it wasn’t clear before to the radicals in Albany, it should be as clear as day now: the deadly pro-criminal policies of the Governor and Democratic Majorities have made New Yorkers less safe.”
Governor Hochul’s response to these calls for action? There’s no need, she says.
Clearly stating that there are “no discussions” underway among New York’s Democrat leaders for a special session, the governor tried to point to minor changes made back in April as having done enough.
“What I’d like to point out is that significant changes to the bail laws were made,” she said.
If they were significant, governor, they still have not worked.
It’s time to be a lot more significant.
Ask most New Yorkers. In poll after poll, everyday citizens make it clear that in addition to being worried about making ends meet, they don’t feel safe. In fact, in a recent poll more than 70% of New York City residents fear being a victim of a violent crime on a daily basis. It’s impossible to revive a struggling economy with that mindset.
It is an alarming snapshot of the current condition of our state, and yet, Governor Hochul says there is no need to act.
When will Albany Democrats finally come to their senses? When will Governor Hochul and the Legislature’s Democrat majorities face the fact that this state is becoming less and less safe, and increasingly violent? When will they finally hear the demands of so many New Yorkers who do not feel safe anymore? It is long past time for the extreme Albany Democrats to address their failed soft-on-crime, anti-law-and-order approach to criminal justice and recognize a rapidly deteriorating climate of public safety and security that has become the hallmark of their government.
This Albany Democrat mindset, which has established a firm foothold at the highest levels of state government, is a big part of the reason New York is being defined, in far too many places, as a crime-ridden state.
From the outset of the current legislative session, our Senate Republican Conference has been calling for a far different approach, one that would restore a strong commitment to law and order, rebuild confidence in public safety, and refocus on safer communities.
Among numerous provisions, our Take Back New York agenda, released earlier this year, would:
- say no to what has become an increasingly pervasive “defund the police” movement and, instead, support and reinvest in law enforcement;
- end cashless bail, restore judicial discretion and reject proposals like the wholesale erasure of criminal records;
- repair what are clearly unworkable discovery and “speedy trial” laws that have only served to establish a revolving door system for repeat and violent criminal offenders;
- refocus a parole process to one that prioritizes the protection and rights of crime victims and their families, and will never release the most violent criminals, including cop and child killers, back on the streets; and
- invest in proven mental health and other services to ensure that those struggling with addiction, homelessness and mental illness receive the help they need.
I have said it in the past and it bears repeating: There are and will continue to be legitimate debates about the root causes of crime and lawlessness, and what government’s response can and should be. Coddling criminals is clearly not the right approach.
It is not debatable, in my view and the view of many others, that crime and lawlessness are spiraling out of control throughout this state.
New York State Senator Tom O'Mara represents the 58th District, which includes Yates, Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung counties and a portion of Tompkins County.