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Letter Sent by Sheriff Toulon to Long Island’s N.Y.S. Senate and Assembly Delegations

July 16, 2020


I am writing to express my strongest opposition to Assembly Bill A10755: An act to amend the criminal procedure law and the penal law in relation to prohibiting peace officers from carrying firearms. This legislation, if passed, would severely interfere with local law enforcement’s ability to protect public safety and could have serious personal safety consequences for correction officers, as well as probation and parole officers, among others. This law, as written, fails to take into account the distinctive roles and jobs of Peace Officers in New York State and the level of dangerousness of a position such as a correction officer.


Correction officers work on a daily basis with some of New York’s most dangerous individuals –gang members, terrorists, and those accused and convicted of a host of violent crimes. Our officers are required to interact with and supervise offenders, and it is not uncommon for inmates to threaten the lives of county correction officers, and even threaten to harm their families. While correction officers do not carry firearms while on duty inside inmate housing areas, other correction officer posts require the carrying of a firearm, including our front visiting area, the perimeter yard and yard tower posts, and in all areas surrounding the confines of the facility. Correction officers receive firearms training due to the nature of their work and the fact that there is a very real risk they will be targeted after certain individuals leave our custody. In addition to supervising and maintaining safety inside our jails, some of our correction officers have investigative duties. For example, our Human Trafficking Unit is tasked with identifying victims and they participate in sensitive investigations with other county, state and federal law enforcement partners. The nature of the job carries with it an intrinsic risk for personal harm.


The bill also misrepresents the level of training certain Peace Officers receive. For example, Suffolk County Correction Officers receive 450 hours of training, which is far higher than the 180-hour minimum standard cited in the bill’s justification. Correction officers also receive 40 hours of initial firearms training. In addition, Criminal Procedure Law requires that any peace officer authorized by his or her employer to carry or use a firearm or other weapon in their official duties must annually complete a course of training in the justification of the use of force/deadly physical force and in the use of firearms and/or other weapons. Suffolk County Correction Officers receive this continuous training every year.


Prohibiting New York State Peace Officers from carrying firearms would have a negative impact on the public safety of both Suffolk County and New York State as a whole. As with other issues facing our county, our state, and our nation, I believe in a commonsense approach to law enforcement. The ability of all officers, both police and peace officers, to be able to protect themselves and their families, while also having the ability to respond to dangerous situations in the community makes sense. I strongly urge you to reject this bill in the name of officer and public safety.


Sincerely,

Dr. Errol D. Toulon, Jr.

Suffolk County Sheriff

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