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Cardinale, Goodell Spar Over Police Reforms

Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, right, is seeking to keep his seat in the New York State Legislature. He is facing a challenge by Democrat Christina Cardinale, left.

Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part debate between candidates for New York State Assembly.

Both Christina Cardinale and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell agree that the law enforcement profession finds itself in a precarious situation and that state funding for law enforcement should increase.

That’s where the similarities ended during a recent debate between Cardinale, a Jamestown Democrat challenging Goodell for the 150th Assembly district, and the incumbent.

“The entire time I have advocated for more funding for all departments throughout Chautauqua County,” Cardinale said. “The Sheriff’s Department is terribly underfunded. I don’t even know if they have the gear that they need for some endeavors. Jamestown Police Department — underfunded. Dunkirk — underfunded. I don’t even think the Jamestown Police Department has riot gear or the appropriate things that they need. I really don’t think they have any of that and I hope desperately they never have to have any of that because they are lacking and I support them, wholeheartedly. I really do.”

Cardinale said she believes crime has decreased over the past decade statewide while crime in Chautauqua County has increased, with drugs to blame for the county’s crime increase. Cardinale said she would make sure the county’s Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force has the funding it needs to take drug dealers off the streets. She was also critical of the county’s efforts to combat drug addiction.

“Secondly, there has been absolutely no effort in this county to provide drug addiction relief,” the challenger said. “We are very limited when it comes to rehab, when it comes to clinics, when it comes to outpatient therapy, when it comes to inpatient therapy. It’s very, very simple economics. If we can destroy the demand, we can destroy the supply. I think we absolutely need to do that. Get rid of drug addiction but don’t treat them like criminals. Help them. Help them stop needing heroin. If they stop needing heroin we stop needing heroin dealers. Simple economics.”

Goodell laid blame for some of law enforcement’s problems at the feet of Democrats in state government, particularly for the 2019 criminal justice reforms that eliminated bail for more than 400 crimes and took discretion away from judges to set bail for many crimes and for the repeal of the state’s 50-a statute that kept police misconduct records sealed from public view. Changes in state law have prompted what Goodell termed an unprecedented number of police retirements across the state, particularly in New York City.

Goodell said he supports additional state funding for local police departments but doubts the state’s $14 billion budget gap will allow for additional funding any time soon. The incumbent said he proposes to further change the bail reform laws and restore judicial discretion with legislation he and state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, have introduced in the state Legislature, make the state DMV database available to all law enforcement officers and amend 50-a to restore confidentiality to officers who face unfounded or malicious complaints.

“I agree with my opponent that focusing on drug addiction and drug crimes is very helpful,” Goodell said. “Our first step is to support our officers who leave their families every morning not knowing what they’re going to face that day and recognizing that they have an incredibly difficult job. We don’t need to make it more difficult by criminalizing law enforcement, putting their personal information out in public, especially when it’s false and malicious.”

Cardinale rebutted Goodell’s arguments about the need to reform the state’s 50-a changes, saying local police officers she has spoken with have told her they have nothing to hide and that the state’s changes do not infringe on their due process rights in any way.

“From my understanding, Sheriff Quattrone, he doesn’t care about 50-a,” Cardinale said. “He said ‘I have nothing to hide. I’m a good dude.’ So I don’t understand your argument when you’re saying it’s an infringement because according to the people that it affects, no, it’s not. Also, one more thing to point out, when you got elected I couldn’t drink legally. You’ve been in your position for 10 years. You talk a good game, you have all these plans, you want to fix drug addiction, you want to advocate for more funding. You’ve had 10 years to do so. Why haven’t you?”

In response, Goodell said he has worked with Democratic Party legislators to expand the availability and use of Narcan, increased funding statewide for drug treatment and drug control efforts and has personally supported drug treatment licenses for UPMC and TLC-Lakeshore before the north county hospital closed. Goodell responded that his push to reform the 50-a repeal is based on the implications of the law statewide, not just in Chautauqua County. Police agencies who spoke with legislators all said they had no issue with disclosure of valid police misconduct cases but believed the release of unfounded complaints is an infringement on an officer’s due process rights.

“What you also realize in NYC is that depending on what you’re role is will define how many complaints you have against you,” Goodell said. “So if you’re a line officer in a high crime area where there’s a lot of tension between the police and the community, you get a lot of complaints. If you’re a detective or you’re an officer and you’re patrolling Manhattan, you get virtually none. So what happens is everyone with seniority does their very damndest to get out of those high-crime areas and it’s a real disservice to those residents who live in those high-crime areas. I would support amending 50-a to provide for protection for those officers on disclosure of unfounded or harassing claims.”

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