On December 4th, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter condemned the county’s new “annoyance” law, calling it a “solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
One month earlier, the Monroe County legislature passed a measure that would allow police officers to arrest anyone that “annoys, alarms, or threatens the personal safety of an officer.”
Baxter, along with Rochester’s chief of police La’Ron Singletary, has vowed to not enforce the law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and will likely be overturned.
“As Chief, I believe it to be in the best interest of our members to not take any enforcement action on the local law until such time that the courts make a judicial opinion on this legislation,” Singletary said in a statement. “The New York State Penal Law currently allows criminal charges to be lodged against a person that subjects any first responder to conduct that constitutes violent or criminal behavior.”
Rochester’s police union president, Michael Mazzeo, also weighed in on the controversial new law, and said that police officers would prefer to educate the public about how to interact with first responders, rather than arrest them.
“I don’t know what the intentions were of the people who drafted this bill because, again, I haven’t spoken to those who drafted it,” Mazzeo told WXXI News. “Were their intentions to do something positive? Was it something just political? I don’t know. But when you don’t let people weigh in or you’re not given a heads up or told what they’re working on, you can only guess, and then all your concerns come out the wrong way — when it’s too late.”
A similar measure passed in Broome County last month, and is pending the county executive’s signature in order to become law.