ALBANY — As bail and crime dominate the conversation surrounding New York’s gubernatorial race, Gov. Hochul wants police to know that she backs the blue.
The governor, facing a deluge of criticism from Republicans over the state’s cashless bail system as the November election approaches, vowed to support — and fully fund — law enforcement Tuesday as she spoke at the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference.
“Those of you who are willing to sacrifice your lives to keep us safe deserve respect, deserve our support, our vocal support,” Hochul said during an early morning appearance at the conference in upstate Glens Falls. “The era of denigrating police must be over.
“We support you 100% and that includes funding. We’ll always be funding our police departments,” the governor added to applause.
Hochul’s opponent in the governor’s race, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), has consistently cast the Democratic incumbent as soft on crime and has called for a complete repeal of the state’s controversial cashless bail system.
Zeldin has ramped up his rhetoric on bail in recent day following the arrest of an upstate man charged with attempting to attack him during a stump speech near Rochester last week.
The GOP nominee vowed Monday to undo the Empire State’s bail reforms, which limit pretrial incarceration for people accused of most nonviolent offenses, should he defeat Hochul in the general election.
“There is a massive difference between the reality today under Kathy Hochul pandering to pro-criminal tax-and-spend Democrats controlling Albany, and what we will do,” he said during a press conference at his Manhattan campaign headquarters.
Zeldin kept up his line of attack despite questions being raised about his connections to the Republican district attorney whose office charged 43-year-old David Jakubonis with attempted assault, an offense that does not call for bail.
Jakubonis was released hours after his arrest. However, he was taken into custody over the weekend on federal charges for allegedly moving toward Zeldin with a sharp brass knuckle-like device in his hand during the incident.
Hochul did not touch on bail Tuesday as she spoke to the Association of Chiefs of Police, instead focusing on steps the state is taking to combat violent crime and gun trafficking as well as public safety funds included in the state budget.
The moderate Dem governor has repeatedly distanced herself from calls to “defund the police,” a progressive rallying cry calling on governments to steer funds away from law enforcement toward social services, preventative measures and other public safety sectors.
She also indicated that she plans to attend a memorial service for a Rochester police officer killed in the line of duty last week.
Tony Mazurkiewicz, a 29-year veteran of the Rochester police force, was shot and killed last week in what officials described as an ambush during a surveillance operation.
“It’s a reminder of the fragility of life and the sacrifices you are willing to make and your families are willing to make when you put on that uniform,” Hochul told the crowd at Tuesday’s event.