Senate Votes To Protect Herkimer Police, Corrections Off

James L. Seward

June 05, 2008

The New York State Senate has passed legislation, cosponsored by Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I/Oneonta), that would establish the death penalty for criminals who kill correction officers and other law enforcement personnel. Seward said the measure would protect Herkimer police and correction officers.

"New York needs the death penalty to protect our society, our correction and police officers who risk their lives every day for our safety and well-being," Seward said. "We must not let danger rule our streets.

"We must toughen our laws to protect police from becoming victims of violent criminals. Too many law enforcement officers are killed while honoring their commitment to protect and serve this state -- and many more are injured and wounded in the line of duty. We need to do everything we can to protect our brave heroes, and the bill will protect our communities and our police officers, from violent criminals."

The legislation (S.6414) would establish the death penalty for the intentional murder of a police officer, peace officer or an employee of the Department of Correctional Services.

In 2004, the state Court of Appeals overturned death penalty sentences, saying that judges were improperly required to instruct jurors in capital cases that if they deadlocked and failed to reach a verdict during the penalty phase of a trial, the judge would impose a sentence that would leave the defendant eligible for parole after 20 to 25 years.

The bill addresses those concerns with respect to the murder of a police officer, peace officer, or correctional officer by mandating the sentence of life without parole if the jury is deadlocked and unable to agree on the death penalty sentence.

"I urge the assembly to bring this critically important bill to protect our police officers to the floor," said Seward. "In 1995, 94 members of the assembly voted in favor of death penalty legislation, and I believe the bill would pass if brought up for a vote."

The bill was sent to the assembly.