ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Despite controversy and public backlash, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo says she intends on signing the police harassment bill into law.
A statement from Monroe County spokesman Jesse Sleezer Friday:
“The County Executive plans to sign the legislation. It was passed by the County Legislature, is supported by law enforcement, and she believes in the intent of the proposal.”
The bill defines harassment broadly — including everything from annoying a first responder, to assaulting one. Punishments include jail time and/or an up to $5,000 fine.
The United Christian Leadership Ministry and Community Justice Advocates held a press conference Friday to speak out against the Monroe County Legislature’s bill on harassing police and first responders.
“This is a ridiculous and reprehensible piece of legislation,” said Rev. Lewis Stewart.
The bill passed in the Legislature last week, sparking some debate in the community.
“I don’t see the need for it, but then you look at the language of it — the word ‘annoy,’ I can annoy people,” said Monroe County Legislator Vincent Felder (D-22). “It’s a subjective thought process that you put into the hands of a police officer.”
The bill’s loose language has led some opponents to question its legality.
“I’m trying to figure out why they’re trying to pass a law they know is unconstitutional,” Felder said.
“If signed into law, it will be a step backwards,” Rev. Stewart said.
Although the bill passed in the Legislature, it did not do so with unanimous support. County Legislator Rachel Barnhart (D-21) has publicly requested that current county executive Cheryl Dinolfo not sign the bill into law.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Monroe County Legislator Karla Boyce (R-5), released this statement Friday in support of the bill:
“As the Chair of Public Safety, I introduced this local law as a measure to protect law enforcement and first responders in Monroe County from being harassed while they are carrying out their official duties. Our first responders and law enforcement respond to emergencies and dangerous situations each and every day to protect the community. It is my hope that this local law will foster an environment in Monroe County that respects police officers and first responders while they are working. I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Legislature that voted in favor of this measure at the last Legislature meeting and I thank the various first responders and law enforcement members who have reached out with their support.”