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In Watertown, GOP leaders say they ‘Back the Blue’

WATERTOWN — National, local and state Republican officials visited the city on Wednesday to voice their support for law enforcement and declare they “Back the Blue.”

New York Republican Committee Chairman Nicholas Langworthy was joined by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuyerville, Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay, R-Pulaski, Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, and Kenneth Blankenbush, R-Black River, as well as Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli and Jefferson County District Attorney Kristyna Mills. Standing in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse on Arsenal Street, they declared they and the state’s Republican Party unequivocally support law enforcement officers across the nation.

“The New York (state) Republican Party stands firmly and strongly with the men and women of law enforcement,” Langworthy said. “Our feet are planted solidly on the thin blue line, with the brave heroes who risk their lives to keep us safe every single day.”

He criticized state criminal justice reforms, including bail reform and the law that raises the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, calling them the result of “Democrat totalitarianism” in state government.

“(Law enforcement officers) don’t deserve a governor, or a state Legislature, or city officials, who turn their back on them while they’re under siege,” Langworthy said. “They don’t deserve policies that tie their hands and neuter them to the point that it’s they, the officers of the law, that are wearing the handcuffs, while the criminals walk free.”

When asked if he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, Langworthy said he believes that all lives matter.

“I think that Black lives matter. I think that all lives matter,” he said. “I think that we need to have a culture where we put human life above all, where we’re all working to make sure that violence is put aside.”

Stefanik spoke at the conference after spending the morning touring the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES building to see part of its $20 million renovation project. She echoed Langworthy’s sentiments and said she’s the only candidate in the NY-21 House race who supports police and “backs the blue.”

“My opponent has a record of smearing law enforcement. She wants to defund the police,” Stefanik said. “She has sided with the rioters and looters, and has run negative digital ads smearing our hard-working law enforcement. Her top supporters, her donors and her top campaign allies and staff are vocally calling to defund and even abolish our police departments entirely.”

Tedra Cobb of Canton, Stefanik’s Democratic opponent, said in an interview Tuesday she does not support defunding the police but does support reforming police practices.

“I don’t support defunding the police,” she said. “I do support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a bipartisan bill. We need to ban chokeholds and strangleholds, eliminate no-knock warrants, we can require de-escalation, and we certainly should be demanding the duty to intervene.”

Walczyk lauded law enforcement officers for their commitment to their jobs and said he would like to see more Democrats join the call to support law enforcement officers.

“Our law enforcement put on their boots in the morning, they go to work, and they deal with people on their worst day of their life, every single day, as a part of their job,” he said. “That is the weight that they carry as our men and women in law enforcement, and that is why I back the blue so ardently.”

Langworthy said he hopes this Republican message is heard across the state.

“We stand for safety and security for our families, and yours,” he said. “We stand proudly for our flag, for our military and for everything they represent. That’s what’s on the ballot in November.”

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