Dear COBA Members;
COBA and our Downstate Correction Coalition partners have scored a major win with regard to Governor Cuomo's proposed budget amendment that would affect every Peace Officer in NYS.
As you all should know, Correction Officers in NYS have Peace Officer status bestowed upon us by legal statute once we have been sworn in and trained under Criminal Procedure Law Sec 2.10.
In recent years, many new groups have sought to be included as Peace Officers under this section, through legislation that has unfortunately muddled this section of the Criminal Procedure Law. This prompted the NYS Legislature and Governor to attempt to clarify who should be given the status of Peace Officer, when they have it (on or off duty) and at what level (armed or unarmed).
The result of this attempted clarification was an extremely uninformed and poorly written Legislative Bill that was then incorporated into the Governor's 2019 Budget proposal. The new language in this proposal would have effectively stripped ALL Peace Officers in NYS of our status, changed it to "on duty" only, with further language that stopped our status from being bestowed by Law, instead of putting the power to appoint Peace Officers in the hands of local Dept heads.
This language did not take into account the myriad of issues that we, particularly in Corrections face when off duty, along with resultant political nonsense that would follow when it comes to who and how Peace Officer Status is given.
Fortunately, the Downstate Correction Coalition, consisting of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, New York City and now New York State Corrections, went into a full collaborative effort to educate the Senate and Assembly as well as the Governor's staff of the effects of this legislation, particularly that the Budget Amendment needed immediate correction or rescinding prior to being submitted in April.
I am happy to report that our hard work has paid off. After numerous meetings both locally and in Albany along with late night phone calls with our respective State Legislators, particularly the Long Island Senate Delegation, I am happy to report that today, the NYS Senate and Assembly have both rejected the Executive budget proposal to reorganize the Criminal Procedure Law that grants Peace Officer Powers throughout the State. The Downstate Correction Coalition was instrumental in driving this issue home in protecting our members.
While this is a big victory for us in convincing the Legislature to remove this from the State Budget, the budget process is not finalized yet. There is always the possibility of horse trading that can resurface before the budget is due in April. We believe this issue should not be affected by such horse trading, but we won't be fully satisfied until the budget process is complete.
I will keep you informed of this and all issues that concern Correction Officers as they progress.
Always Yours in Unionism
Brian Sullivan, COBA President