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Lonsberry: COPS NEED BIDEN TO MOVE VISIT TO SYRACUSE

Many in law enforcement in New York state are hoping President Biden will postpone his as-yet-unannounced Thursday visit to Syracuse.

The trip is intended to draw attention to the $6.1 billion CHIPS Act grant that Senator Schumer’s office says will be given to Micron to expand its Boise, Idaho plant, and to expected plant in Clay, a suburb of Syracuse.

The problem is that the recent killings of two law enforcement officers in Syracuse have placed emotional and organizational strain on police officers and agencies. In an ambush and shootout on Sunday evening, Onondaga County sheriff’s Lt. Michael Hoosock and Syracuse police officer Michael Jensen were shot and killed.

Jensen’s funeral was held Saturday and Hoosock’s Monday.

When contacted by the United States Secret Service and ordered to provide 150 officers to support the president’s visit, the department asked if the trip could be postponed for a week. A presidential detail requires every Syracuse Police Department officer to be on duty, creating a stressful event just five days after the funeral of a beloved officer brother.

Emotionally, the Syracuse department didn’t want to do this to its officers. The department hoped a week’s delay would allow officers to grieve and prepare.

The White House denied the request for a delay.

Hopefully it will be reconsidered.

Because it’s not just the Syracuse Police Department that will be affected. Other agencies, perhaps most notably the New York State Police, will find their officers unnecessarily strained by a presidential visit.

To allow Syracuse officers the opportunity to attend Officer Jensen’s on-call hours and funeral, the New York State Police assumed all law enforcement responsibilities for the City of Syracuse from 3:00 PM Friday to 6:00 AM Sunday. Most of that burden fell on Troop D.

Controlling an entire large city, while also performing the routine patrol duties of the seven-county Troop D area, is a very difficult task, requiring individual troopers to work extra shifts and days off.

Which they did with great pleasure.

But to have that immediately followed by a presidential visit, which will again force them to work extra shifts and days off, is a heavy burden.

And an unnecessary burden.

Because the Micron announcement is not date specific. Senator Schumer has already told people about the money. The presidential visit was most accurately described as a campaign stop. And while that is important, it will be just as important a week later, and its value to the president will not diminish if it is delayed a week.

In addition to the Syracuse Police Department and the New York State Police, there is also the matter of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, which had a beloved 17-year veteran and watch commander killed in this incident. It will bury Lt. Michal Hoosock – who left behind a wife and children aged 3, 5 and 7 – on Monday and is expected to support a presidential visit on Thursday. That’s another detail that requires officers to work extra shifts and work on a day off.

The chief doesn’t want to say anything, the sheriff doesn’t want to say anything, the troop commander doesn’t want to say anything. This also applies to the governor, the chief inspector or the mayor.

But something needs to be said.

It is too much to ask of Central New York’s flawed and understaffed law enforcement agencies to put their officers, troops and deputies through the rigors of a presidential visit so soon after the assassination and funerals of these two heroes.

Sometimes supporting law enforcement needs to be more than a slogan. Sometimes it has to be something real.

And what the hundreds of men and women traumatized and stressed by these police killings need is to be spared this week the rigors of providing presidential security and escort.

Do it next week.

Give them a few days to grieve and rest, then visit Central New York.

The White House has not yet announced the trip. I’m the only one who reported it. The date could be moved without shame or explanation.

And I hope the message gets high enough up the food chain for that to happen.

I doubt President Biden wants to tax these officers this way. I’m confident he would understand.

But I don’t know anything about his staff or the people in the Secret Service.

So this is the call. On behalf of a variety of people in different uniforms, please reschedule the President’s impending visit to Syracuse. Only a week.

As a sign of respect for two murdered officers, and as a token of gratitude and understanding for their brothers and sisters in blue.