Local officials gathered at the Village Green in Great Neck on Sunday to support local law enforcement and honor those whose lives have been lost in the line of duty.
Those in attendance included U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), a gubernatorial candidate; Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman; Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder; Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip; Democratic Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey; Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral and others.
Officials held a candlelight vigil to honor fallen officers, including NYPD police officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, who were shot in the line of duty several weeks ago in Harlem.
Zeldin, in a statement, criticized Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, saying she was not prioritizing the well-being of law enforcement officers and protecting New Yorkers.
“How many more police officers must be shot?” Zeldin said. “How many more innocent New Yorkers must be attacked on their own streets? How much longer are we going to put up with the governor who is supposed to be fighting for us, hanging us out to dry?”
Blakeman touted the need for residents to honor the sacrifice police and first responders make to keep the public safe on a daily basis.
“Events like this bring our communities together and let the family and friends of the fallen officers know that we will never forget them, or their service and sacrifice,” he said.
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Aside from expressing his support for local law enforcement, Blakeman said he has been discussing various policing strategies with District Attorney Anne Donnelly and Nassau County’s Police Benevolent Association President Tom Shevlin to keep Nassau residents safe. Blakeman has also criticized the state’s bail reform laws.
Blakeman signed an executive order in late January that permits the county Police Department to disclose if a person has been rearrested after being released without bail. He said the reports will be made available online.
According to the executive order, approximately 20 percent of bail-related cases between July 2020 and June 2021 in New York resulted in an individual being rearrested for some offense.
The order also claims more than 2,000 repeat offenders across the state were subsequently arrested for a violent felony while another case was pending. More than 400 of those repeat offenders were rearrested for a violent felony involving a firearm, according to the executive order, which took effect immediately.
Although U.S. News & World Report ranked Nassau as the safest county in America, Blakeman said in a Newsday interview before November’s election that the publication took “spoonfed” statistics from the county and said they did not reflect of what really happened over the past year due to the pandemic.
Nassau County spends $1,148 per capita on police and fire protection while the national median is $359, U.S. News & World Report said last year.
Public safety professionals account for 1.26 percent of the county’s population, compared with the national median of 0.70 percent.