Updated 01/03/2013 05:53 PM
Senator Ritchie to again push Mark's Law
As state lawmakers get ready to head back to Albany many are getting hit with phone calls, emails, social media messages about a bill that passed through the Senate but never made it to a vote in the Assembly. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the Christmas Eve tragedy in Webster has people pushing for Mark's Law to become actual law once again.
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- No one is saying what happened in Webster would have been prevented by Mark's Law. What some local fire and emergency departments are saying is that it once again shines light on why the law should be changed.
The state's murder one statute currently only lists the in-the-line-of-duty murders of police and court officials as punishable by life without parole. Mark's Law would add fire fighters, EMTs and other first responders.
"It shows that our first responders are putting themselves in danger on a daily basis," State Senator Patty Ritchie said. "I think there were 700,000 responders or firefighters that were actually targets of violence over the last few years."
Ritchie's fellow Senators agree. In fact, Mark's Law, named after Mark Davis, the Cape Vincent EMT who was shot and killed back in 2009 while responding to an emergency call, passed through the Senate twice last year. But it was never voted on by the Assembly. North Country Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush says he supported the version that hit the Senate and still does, but the Assembly wanted changes that he thinks watered it down.
"I'm sure that we'll be looking to do something there trying to convince the Assembly to do the same bill that's in the Senate," Blankenbush said.
Blankenbush says among other things, the Assembly version lessened the punishments. As for why, he says he thinks some downstate lobbying worked.
"I don't have the inside track, but I believe that some unions, police unions in New York City that complained or objected to having first responders on the same level as law enforcement officers," He said.
Ritchie, still trying to understand why herself, says she's reached out to those unions.
"I've been assured in all the phone calls that I've made to these associations, police agencies, that they don't have an issue with this. They're supportive," she said about her conversations with them.
But whatever the reason, it won't stop Ritchie from re-introducing that Senate version and Blankenbush from supporting it. Ritchie is still holding out hope something changes.
We reached out to the NYC Police Benevolent association president late Thursday for a response.
Fellow North Country Assemblywoman Addie Russell, who sponsored the original bill in the Assembly, declined to be interviewed for this story.