Roughly a hundred rallied against creating a provisional deputies force in Nassau County on Monday, April 8 in Mineola. (Credit: Janet Burns)

Opponents Of ‘Blakeman’s Militia’ Rally In Mineola

On Monday, April 8, roughly a hundred area residents turned up at the county seat to protest the use of provisional, newly recruited sheriff’s deputies during emergencies, as proposed and to be activated by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Sheriff Anthony LaRocco.

In March, Blakeman and LaRocco published an ad in Newsday looking for applicants to become on-call special deputies during county-declared emergencies, offering some basic training and $150 a day when activated, without liability in case of on-the-job injury. The ad strongly emphasized a preference for former law enforcement and security guards, and for gun-permit holders.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Department also posted the ad on social media on March 15, and posted it on the county’s website as a PDF ahead of the March 31 application deadline. The non-union position would be created under New York State County Law 655, which states, “For the protection of human life and property during an emergency, the sheriff may deputize orally or in writing such number of additional special deputies as he deems necessary.”

Speakers at the Monday-morning, eclipse-day rally included New York Civil Liberties Union Nassau County Chapter Director Susan Gottehrer, Rockville Centre resident Laura Burns from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, National Organization for Women Nassau Chapter President Patty Pastor, leaders of the Hempstead NAACP, Elmont resident and retired New York City Corrections Officer Angel Joyner, as well as all seven members of the Nassau County Legislative Minority Caucus.

On the whole, most speakers argued that adding to the emergency ranks already in place — provided by the Nassau County Police Department, municipal police departments, New York State Police, and/or the National Guard — in the proposed manner would be both unnecessary and unsafe for county residents. Attendees were similarly passionate on these points, holding signs with slogans such as “We Back the Blue, Not Blakeman’s Militia,” frequently chanting “No Militia! No Way!” between speakers.

Nassau County Legislature Alternate Deputy Minority Leader Siela A. Bynoe also noted to assembled press and local residents, “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.”

Later that day, Blakeman held yet another press opportunity to further clarify details about the provisional deputies, whose first class of 25 participants will include lots of former law enforcement or military personnel, according to Blakeman.

“Most of the people on this database list that we have don’t even need it,” Blakeman said, as reported by Patch. “It’ll be a refresher course for them.” He also said they could be ready for activation in as little as a month, pending mental and physical certification by a doctor.

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