News Flash

Legislative District 11

Posted on: April 9, 2024

C.E. Blakeman: Abandon Controversial Citizen Militia Plan

DeRiggi Whitton 04082024

(MINEOLA, N.Y.) – More than 100 concerned residents – including a diverse coalition of community advocates and retired law enforcement personnel – assembled at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola on Monday, April 8 with a single demand of Nassau County Executive Bruce A. Blakeman – abandon your plans for a makeshift militia of private citizens with gun permits.

The Blakeman administration solicited applications for the “provisional sheriff” program in a March 17 Newsday legal notice. Those armed citizens, who would not be part of any type of professional law enforcement agency, could be mobilized to guard public spaces during vaguely defined “states of emergency” Few concrete details have been shared by the administration as to how these individuals would be vetted or trained before being deputized. 

“The idea of any County Executive having a private, armed group of people to deploy at their sole discretion is risky, unnecessary, and has created tremendous anxiety in people across Nassau County,” said Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D – Glen Cove). “During the last several weeks, my office has been flooded with calls, and the consensus is clear – we don’t want it, and we don’t need it because we have one of the best police forces in the nation. The Minority Caucus will not relent in its efforts to reverse this profoundly misguided idea.”

The proposal has roiled Nassau County and the region since news of its existence first emerged in media reports. A petition demanding that County Executive Blakeman abandon the plan has garnered more than 1,400 signatures in less than a week.

During Monday’s rally, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) Nassau County Chapter Director Susan Gottehrer, Rockville Centre resident Laura Burns from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, National Organization for Women (NOW) Nassau Chapter President Patty Pastor, leaders of the Hempstead NAACP and Elmont resident and retired New York City Corrections Officer Angel Joyner, joined Minority Leader DeRiggi-Whitton and the full Democratic caucus in denouncing the plan.

“Deputizing armed citizens – with no training, no experience, and no knowledge of how to handle what he or any County Executive deems a state of emergency - will most assuredly foster and promote lawlessness during an emergency and may in fact endanger the lives of our law enforcement as well as other residents,” said Nassau County Legislature Deputy Minority Leader Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview). “This is yet another disturbing example of our County Executive veering so far out of his lane and devoting his attention to issues that don’t exist or aren’t likely to ever exist. The authorization of an armed militia in these scenarios is downright dangerous.”

“Nassau County residents and visitors benefit from our highly trained and capable law enforcement and Office of Emergency Management personnel. We need highly trained individuals – trained in de-escalation; trained in mental health; trained to use technology we equip them with like body cameras; and trained to work with the mental health professionals we imbed in their response to mentally aided calls,” said Nassau County Legislature Alternate Deputy Minority Leader Siela A. Bynoe (D – Westbury). “As a body, we have invested wisely and collaboratively with our police unions and prior administrations to build greater trust between police and our communities. One bad act by one bad actor of this militia could erode all the trust that we have worked to get. No militia – no way. Not on our watch.”

Nassau County Legislator Seth I. Koslow (D – Merrick) echoed the sentiments of the crowd as he stressed that “only police officers who are trained should be doing police work,” adding that Nassau’s thousands of officers often receive training exceeding State requirements.

“Are these deputies going to be trained? How much training are they going to get? Will they be re-trained? We don’t know any of this because Bruce Blakeman is making it up as he goes along,” Legislator Koslow said. “What about chain of command issues? What about the state and federal resources we have in times of emergency? All of this begs the question – does County Executive Bruce Blakeman not trust our law enforcement to protect us in times of emergency? Well, I do. I’m here today – we’re here today to tell Bruce Blakeman to stop this charade, stop terrifying citizens of Nassau County, and do away with this militia.”

Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages (D – Valley Stream) recounted his experiences as a father to relay concerns that other parents have expressed to him about the County’s proposal. 

“As the father of a young Black man who sometimes wants to wear a hood – God forbid a young man wearing a hood is out and about, minding his business during this so-called ‘state of emergency,’ which is not defined under the law, and God forbid an overzealous George Zimmerman-type of person chooses to think that young man is a danger,” Legislator Solages said. “Our County Executive is trying to take us back in time. This is dangerous, and we cannot allow this to stand.”

Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé (D – Freeport) recalled her experiences as a Freeport resident during Superstorm Sandy to demonstrate how the provisional sheriff initiative is unnecessary and potentially hazardous.

“The County Executive mentioned – well, we might need additional people to protect us during an emergency such as Sandy. I lived through it. In my area of Freeport, we had no power, no gas for five days, and things could have gone terribly wrong,” Legislator Mulé said. “But you know what happened? The National Guard was brought in – people who are trained to deal with situations such as this. They made sure that life and property were secured. We do not need this extremely misguided idea.”

“There’s one more very practical and real reason that everyone in this County should be opposed to this proposal – it’s your pocketbook,” Nassau County Legislator Scott M. Davis (D – Rockville Centre) said. “According to the administrative code of Nassau County, implementing this policy would create tremendous liability, and that liability would fall on the shoulders of all the residents of Nassau County. You’re talking about putting people in a highly stressful situation where you can only imagine, in a densely populated area, the likelihood of something going wrong. This is not a burden that we need to bear, nor should we bear.”


PHOTO CAPTIONS – Names of speakers are included in the respective file names.

PHOTO CREDITS – Photos by Peter M. Budraitis

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