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Borrello, Goodell Eyeing Stronger Institution Security

Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Deputies are pictured outside the gates at Chautauqua Institution after speaker Salman Rushdie was stabbed Friday. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell is calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to help strengthen security at Chautauqua Institution following last week’s attack on Salman Rushdie.

Goodell, R-Jamestown, on Monday said he and State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, have urged Hochul to designate the security force at Chautauqua as peace officers to enhance the safety of visitors, participants and speakers on the grounds.

“Sen. Borrello and I have been pushing legislation that would enable the security force at Chautauqua Institution to be designated as peace officers,” he said. “We have sent her a letter urging her to support legislation that we have that would enable the officers at Chautauqua Institution to become peace officers.”

Goodell explained that Chautauqua’s security force is currently designated as private security, preventing them from making arrests and having direct access to emergency radio systems. He believes Chautauqua’s security force should not be limited by these restrictions.

Rushdie, a renowned author, was stabbed multiple times Friday morning shortly before he was set to take part in a lecture at Chautauqua. Hadi Matar of New Jersey is facing charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. The 24-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges during arraignment in Chautauqua County Court.

Meanwhile, the legislation Goodell is proposing is not new to New York, though past efforts have failed.

“That legislation passed the Senate and the Assembly a couple years in a row and was vetoed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” Goodell said.

Goodell and his colleagues hope Hochul’s response to the legislation will be different than the previous administration’s response.

“We have been urging Gov. Hochul to include it in her budget or even call a special session,” Goodell said. “We’re urging Gov. Hochul to call a special session or to at least, at a minimum, include that legislation in the budget, so that we can avoid the kind of situations we just experienced.”

If the legislation is approved and Chautauqua’s security officers are designated as peace officers, Goodell said they would be able to arrest people, carry concealed service revolvers and work directly with other law enforcement officers.

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