As a former city police officer injured in the line of duty and a candidate for the 26th State Assembly District, I was appalled to hear about a recent criminal case involving a man arrested on charges of attacking retired police Capt. Charles Stravalle in a Rego Park restaurant by hitting Stravalle with brass knuckles in retaliation for a 2002 arrest.
It is unconscionable that this crime was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor assault. I lend my voice to that of Captains Endowment President Roy Richter, in that the people of this city have an obligation to seek aggressive prosecution of criminals who assault officers in revenge. This protection should extend to retired officers because the criminals we arrest do not forget us. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is adamant that serious consequences should extend to anyone retaliating against a retired officer.
While we hope the judge in this case imposes stiff penalties, including jail time, on the perpetrator, it is time the state Legislature toughens the penal code to ensure that attacks on retired officers are treated with the same seriousness as those of officers still on the job. I urge our borough state Assembly members and senators to quickly remedy this omission in our criminal code. Police officers put themselves in harm's way everyday to keep us safe. They should be afforded the same protections under the law once they retire.
If elected by community voters to the state Assembly, I will sponsor this legislation myself, but action is needed now.
Further delay in extending tougher penalties to attacks on retired officers will only encourage future attacks on officers, prosecutors and judges and ultimately make our streets less safe and our justice system less sound.
©2008 Community News Group
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