Goodell, Borrello Urge Peace Officer Status For Security Force

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell has asked Gov. Kathy Hochul to grant the Chautauqua Institution’s security force peace officer status to strengthen security. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and state Sen. George Borrello are 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 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.”

Added Borrello in a statement, “In her remarks at Chautauqua Institution on Sunday, the Governor indicated she would sign this legislation if it comes to her desk. Recalling the legislature and working for passage of our bill is the first step towards making that happen.”

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.

While Goodell and other lawmakers await Hochul’s response, he is challenging the governor to put her words into action and make changes to prevent future attacks.

“It’s nice that Gov, Hochul comes and makes a political speech in front of a handful of people on Sunday, joining all of us here in Chautauqua County in condemning the recent attack,” he said. “It would be even better if she put those words into action and supported our legislation to give peace officer status to the officers at Chautauqua Institution.”

County Executive PJ Wendel said they will make sure the governor acts upon her expressed commitment to preventing future incidents like the Salman Rushdie attack.


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