Local first responders react to Monroe County proposal
ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) - Lawmakers in Monroe County, New York are pushing to introduce a new bill that would legally ban harassment of first responders.
Two Monroe County legislators say this proposed measure would make harassment of police officers, peace officers and first responders an unclassified misdemeanor. WENY spoke with the owner of Bangs Ambulance in Ithaca as well as a paramedic with Bangs Ambulance. They say, they think it would be good if the bill was passed statewide. However, they also have mixed feelings about the proposal.
"I kind of got a mixed feeling because there's times that we run into patients that may be either physically or verbally harassing, but it may be something that's a little bit out of their control," says Tim Bangs, owner of Bangs Ambulance.
Bangs says some of these patients are usually dealing with a mental health issue, dementia or Alzheimer's disease. However, he says when patients are going through a drug or alcohol overdose, and they become physically or verbally abusive, that situation is different, and would be handled differently under this proposed measure.
Bangs added, "If they knew that there might be charges filed against them, if they physically or verbally assaulted our crew members. They may be a little bit different, as oppose to how they may react to us right now."
Dan Leonard, a Paramedics Supervisor tells WENY he has been working for Bangs Ambulance for 19-years now. He says during his 19-years with Bangs, he has experienced verbal harassment, as well as situations where people have tried to become physical with him.
"A couple of times I've had people swing at me and people grab at you. I've never had too many terrible problems, I've had partners who have, where we've had to have the police department come. A couple of them had to be tased to calm them down, sometimes we can medically sedate them," says Leonard.
Leonard thinks if this proposed measure was passed statewide, it would be good for all first responders.
Leonard added, "Now if the public knew you can't even get into our faces while we're trying to work, that would help make our jobs easier on some of the chaotic scenes."
If the was bill was passed, a conviction could result in a maximum of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000 dollars. This would only be in effect for Monroe County. But if it passes, it could set the stage for a statewide proposal to be decided upon in Albany.