NYPD officers Peter Cybulski (left), and Harmeed Armani (right) with Rep. Lee Zeldin at the 2017 Riverhead Kiwanis Breakfast of Stars. File photo: April Pokorny

First Congressional District Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives denouncing calls to “defund, disband, dismantle or abolish” law enforcement and encouraging states to adopt statutes to establish “essential rights for law enforcement officers.”

Zeldin’s resolution comes after a wave of national protests against police brutality, set off by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died in police custody on May 25. Floyd’s killing has provoked outrage across the country and around the world, leading to widespread protests that still continue months later.

Black Lives Matter, one of the groups organizing the protests, began a petition on May 30 calling to defund the police.

“We call for a national defunding of police. We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive,” Black Lives Matter’s website reads.

Most elected officials — Democrats and Republicans alike — at all levels of government, have rebuffed calls to defund or dismantle police departments.

Zeldin’s resolution urges establishing a “bill of rights” for law enforcement officers. Currently, 16 states have adopted similar laws.

“Our nation’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to defend ours, and they have earned nothing but our full support. In doing so, we must ensure that both our great law enforcement officers and the people they serve are protected,” Zeldin said in a statement.

The resolution states:

  1. The law enforcement officer should have an inherent right to self-defense against physical threats;
  2. The law enforcement officer should have the right to legal recourse if a civilian attempts to assault the law enforcement officer;
  3. Physical harassment targeting the law enforcement officer should not be permitted;
  4. The law enforcement officer should have the right to equipment necessary for personal protection;
  5. The law enforcement officer should have the right to counsel and/or a union representative present at any interview conducted as part of an investigation;
  6. The law enforcement officer should have a right to be informed of the nature of the investigation before any interview commences, including the name of the complainant and sufficient information to reasonably apprise the officer of the allegations;
  7. During questioning in the course of an investigation, the law enforcement officer should not be subjected to any offensive language, nor should be threatened with departmental, civil or criminal charges, nor receive financial or promotional inducement:
  8. The law enforcement officer should be entitled to a hearing, with notification in advance of the date, access to transcripts and other relevant documents and evidence;
  9. The law enforcement officer should have the opportunity to respond to adverse accusations;
  10. The law enforcement officer should not be disciplined for exercising a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent unless granted immunity that such statements will not be used against the officer in any criminal proceeding;

“This resolution makes it clear we will not stand idly by while some attempt to ‘defund’ and ‘abolish’ our law enforcement officers. We must defend our great law enforcement officers, while recognizing the important relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Zeldin said.

Zeldin introduced the resolution on Aug. 22. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee for consideration.

The congressman announced the resolution in a press release this afternoon. He said it has been endorsed by the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, the National Association for Police Officers, the National Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Zeldin’s announcement came two days after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot a Black man in the back multiple times at close range Sunday afternoon. The shooting was captured on video from a nearby apartment building. Jake Blake, 29, survived the shooting and is in serious but stable condition in a Milwaukee hospital, where he has undergone surgery. The shooting touched off protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin and across the country. Protests in Kenosha started out peacefully but turned violent, with looting and fires destroying some stores.

The congressman is currently seeking his fourth term of office. His re-election bid has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement agencies on Long Island and in New York State, including: Suffolk County PBA, Suffolk County Superior Officers Association, Suffolk County Probation Officers Association, Suffolk County Police Conference, Suffolk County Detective Association, Suffolk County Detective Investigators PBA, Police Benevolent Association of New York State, New York State Association of PBAs, Suffolk County Deputy Sheriffs’ PBA, Suffolk County Correction Officers Association, Nassau County PBA and Police Conference of New York.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.