Cornell Attacks Day, Asks PUBLIC SAFETY—OR POLITICS?

BY HARRIET CORNELL
Chairwoman, Rockland County Legislature

To the Editor,

While I am loathe to get into the middle of a contentious race for Rockland County Executive, I am not a candidate and feel compelled to respond to Legislator Day’s misleading, erroneous, and mean-spirited comments regarding my relationship with the law enforcement community in Rockland County.

Mr. Day chose to take a simple, straight-forward question that I had asked at a Public Safety Committee meeting on gun safety and distort my words into an attack on law enforcement.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As a lawmaker, it is my responsibility to ask questions regarding resolutions that come before the Legislature.  I asked about exempting active and retired law enforcement personnel from the NY Safe Act provisions restricting magazine capacity, for the sole purpose of better understanding the issue and its ramifications so that I could make an informed decision.  Thanks to the explanation I received from a young man in the audience whose parents are retired law enforcement professionals, I voted to support the resolution put forward by Legislator Day.

For Leg. Day to then turn around and publicly accuse me of “an underlying hostility” toward our law enforcement personnel smacks of political opportunism.  He may be seeking to bolster his own credentials after his vote against the 2013 county budget which had restored sheriff’s officers eliminated by the county executive.  Our Legislative Chambers were filled with law enforcement officials from towns and villages to support me and the majority of the Legislature for our public safety stance in restoring these vital positions.

For the record, in almost 30 years in the Legislature, and particularly during the eight years I have served as chair, I have been extraordinarily supportive of our law enforcement community. Beginning in 2005, I led an historic and vital initiative to bring together law enforcement personnel from throughout the county, the state and the federal government to discuss homeland security, to determine if the county has vulnerabilities in this area, and to put forward recommendations to address these vulnerabilities.

I worked directly with then-Sheriff James Kralik, with the current Sheriff Lou Falco, as well as the chiefs of police of all county police departments, members of the State Police and the FBI and many other leading law enforcement personnel to put together a comprehensive and ground-breaking report that lead to new policies and public awareness designed to improve safety in the county. Our Homeland Security Task Force became a national model of what a local community can do to improve safety.

In addition to this initiative, no one in the County Legislature has been more outspoken or more supportive than I have been in regard to the Sheriff’s Patrol, the Mounted Patrol and the River Patrol–not to mention Intel, BCI, the District Attorney’s Office, the Narcotics Task Force, the K-9 unit and other vital programs.

Do I want to find ways to curtail gun violence and protect our children and residents?  Of course I do.  And I think most of our residents would agree that this is an issue that should not be exploited for political gain.

Harriet Cornell
Chairwoman
Rockland County Legislature