New York Daily News

December 13, 2005

Tough police law gaining support

Pols, N.Y.ers united on protecting cops

By BY DAVID SALTONSTALL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

Controversial Queens judge Laura Blackburne  
A cop stands at attention as Daniel Enchategui's father, Pedro, leaves home for son's wake.  
New York has spoken: Crimes against cops must stop.

Sick of the wanton attacks on the city's Finest, New Yorkers have united behind the Daily News' campaign to stiffen criminal penalties for those who dare to strike against cops.

Political leaders - from Mayor Bloomberg to Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno - as well as hundreds of passionate News readers voiced their support yesterday for a near-zero tolerance for cop attackers.

With the blessing of Bruno (R-Rensselaer), state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) vowed yesterday to push for a Crimes Against Cops Law.

"I hate to think how many guys I locked up for guns who never got more than two or three months," said Golden, an ex-cop who retired from the NYPD in 1983 after being struck by a car while chasing a drug dealer.

"This is something that should have been done a long time ago," he said.

The Senate bill would boost the sentence for assaulting a cop with a deadly weapon from a minimum of five years to a mandatory 30 years.

Likewise, attempting to murder a police officer would earn assailants a mandatory 30-year stretch, rather than possible parole after 15 years.

To become law, the Senate bill needs a similar sponsor in the Assembly, and the backing of Gov. Pataki.

Yet other attempts to toughen laws against those who commit violence against cops have gone nowhere in the Assembly.

As for Pataki, his office offered only muted support yesterday for the stiffer sentences, first outlined yesterday in a front-page editorial in The News, saying he would have "to look at the details."

"But the governor has always supported legislation that would impose stricter penalties on those who injure or kill the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for our safety," said Pataki spokeswoman Mollie Fullington.

Bloomberg, who already has proposed boosting the minimum sentence for gun possession from 1 year to 3-1/2 years, was more forceful, saying Albany legislators need to "stand up and start doing something about this terrible scourge."

Letters"I think Albany should get together as soon as today," Bloomberg told reporters. "There is no reason to wait."

But the Republican governor and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) are locked in a bitter battle over competing bills that would increase the penalty for possession and sale of illegal guns.

And both sides yesterday seemed unwilling to abandon that squabble in favor of a new, more streamlined proposal.

"We want to stay focused," said one Albany insider close to Pataki.

The back-and-forth comes as the family of NYPD Officer Daniel Enchautegui plans to bury him tomorrow, four days after the 40th Precinct cop was gunned down outside his Bronx home after confronting a pair of alleged burglars.

Though mortally wounded by a .357 revolver fired by one of the crooks, Enchautegui still managed to pump off eight rounds - allowing cops to nab both suspects later.

Aides to Pataki and Bruno said yesterday they both planned to attend Enchautegui's funeral. Silver, who faced criticism for failing to attend the funeral last week of Officer Dillon Stewart, another NYPD officer gunned down, said he would attend Enchautegui's wake today.

"I intend to express condolences to the family," Silver told The News.

Meanwhile, efforts to boost penalties for criminals who go after cops picked up strong support yesterday from police union heads, who called on state legislators to put aside partisan differences and get behind a single bill.

"These recent shootings and killings should be a catalyst for all the politics to be put aside and for them to sit in one room and at one table and move on passing these pieces of legislation," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Added Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association: "If the police are not safe, what fate does the average citizen face?"

Golden said he hoped to bring the Crimes Against Cops Law to the Senate by the end of next month.

"I was one of the lucky ones," he said yesterday, reflecting on his line-of-duty injury that caused him to retire. "I got out with my life."

With Alison Gendar