Hawley’s Albany Update

Time is now for death penalty for cop killers
May 3, 2007

In the wake of the tragic and untimely passing of State Trooper David Brinkerhoff, it is by no means my intention to rise in favor of the death penalty for cop killers while using Trooper Brinkerhoff and his family as political props. However, it is indeed time to evaluate how we protect our brave law enforcement officials and have serious discussions about what measures need to be in place to make sure we do not lose one more police officer at the hands of an outlaw.

I have always been an advocate of the death penalty for cop killers. Unfortunately, it takes great tragedy such as this to bring the issue to the forefront. I stand in favor of the measure because we need to have a deterrent in place for criminals who choose to take the life of a police officer.

Cop killers do not pay the ultimate price for their heinous act, and they should. A police officer has the right to go to work and come home to his family at the end of a day spent protecting the public.

Many opponents of the death penalty for cop killers say lax gun laws allow criminals to obtain firearms with great ease and that instead of punishing them with the death penalty we ought to examine how we regulate guns in this state.

The truth is there are thousands of laws on the books to regulate guns. An outlaw will always find the means to arm himself with a gun, and rarely through legal procedure. One more law aimed to deter law-abiding citizens from obtaining a firearm for hunting, target shooting, or for protection is not the answer.

Tough measures spearheaded by my conference has helped make New York the safest large state in the nation, yet more needs to be done to address dangerous crimes that now impact all communities across the state, not just urban cities.

This month, we made a motion to bring legislation to the floor for a vote that would close a loophole in the law so that both first time and repeat violent felony offenders would receive a mandatory five-year sentence for felonies committed with firearms.

Currently, only persistent offenders are subject to the mandatory five-year additional sentence.

Committing one crime with a firearm is one too many. We cannot wait for these criminals to commit multiple offenses before we act with swift and definitive justice. As such, we must be proactive, not reactive, in passing laws that address these serious matters.

New York should have the toughest laws in the nation to send the message that violent crime will not be tolerated, especially crimes committed against law enforcement.