August 12, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Major Increase in 'Red Flag' Law Usage By Law Enforcement Statewide, Keeping New Yorkers Protected From Gun Violence Caused By Individuals Who Pose a Risk to Themselves or Others

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Major Increase in 'Red Flag' Law Usage By Law Enforcement Statewide, Keeping New Yorkers Protected From Gun Violence Caused By Individuals Who Pose a Risk to Themselves or Others

Substantially More Red Flag Applications Filed in Last Three Months Than All of 2021

State Police Reports More Than 93 Percent Increase, Suffolk County Sheriff's Office Reports More Than 75 Percent Increase in Red Flag Applications

Progress Comes After Governor Hochul Implemented Executive Order and Passed New Legislation Requiring Red Flag Law Implementation

State Will Offer New Red Flag Law Training in Partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety

Governor Hochul: "We also did strengthen our Red Flag Laws because this way we can keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those who are threat to themselves or society. As I mentioned, the Buffalo shooters said what he would do. He fell through the cracks, and as we left there, determined to make meaningful changes, I signed an executive order almost immediately. And I required our State Police, not an option, but a requirement, that they file a protection order whenever they have probable cause to believe that an individual is a threat to themselves or others."

Hochul: "We launched the first-in-the-nation consortium of nine states, nine states, and including NYPD and Boston PD and all the states around, and asked them to come together and to work for the first time in history work as one team. Not competitive, but the people who are trafficking guns, they're coming through these states, and somebody seeing something somewhere and that intelligence should not stop at their state border. Let's share that information. Let's bring it together. And the state police here in New York is leading that. So, as a result of that, launched in January, we've seen a 104 percent increase in gun seizures by New York State law enforcement."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a major increase in applications for Extreme Risk Protection Orders under New York's Red Flag Law—with substantially more ERPOs filed in the last three months than in all of 2021. The increase comes after Governor Hochul took decisive action in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, issuing an Executive Order requiring State Police to expand their use of the Red Flag Law and working with the legislature to pass a new law requiring all law enforcement agencies in New York to increase the use of these potentially life-saving orders. Governor Hochul made the announcement in Suffolk County where the County Sheriff's Office is reporting a more than 75 percent increase in utilization of the Red Flag Law over the last three months.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning, everyone. Actually, good afternoon, everyone. Great to see you at this wonderful site. I want to thank Supervisor Rich Schaffer for offering this beautiful youth center. There's a lot of kids out there they're enjoying the final days of summer. They got this great smile. I hate to tell them school's right around the corner. I don't want to ruin their fun today, but it is wonderful to be back here in this incredible community. I'm so grateful to be joined by some true public servants, starting with our Superintendent of the State Police who's joined us. You'll be hearing from Kevin Bruen momentarily. I want to thank him for his service.

County Executive Steve Bellone. Steve, what we went through during that pandemic really defines the character of an individual and your passion for doing what was right for your constituents, leaving no stone unturned - we heard from you if not daily, hourly, in terms of fighting for the protection of the health of your residents, and for that, I'm grateful for that and the countless other initiatives that we've worked on together, let's give a great round applause for our County Executive.

Our Sheriff, Dr. Errol Toulon. I want to thank him for all, you know, putting on the uniform every day, wearing it proudly and letting people know that, you know, we support our law enforcement and they do their jobs and we're there to thank them every chance we get. So, thank you, Sheriff, for your public service as well.

And someone who's got their hands on every day is the Commissioner of the Police Department. And I want to thank our commissioner, Rodney Harrison, for what he does day in and day out to protect the people of this great county. So let's give him a round of applause as well.

Monisha Henley, the Senior Director of State Government Affairs, Everytown for Gun Safety. This has been a force of change and change is happening. And I thank you and everyone who's been supporting Everytown for many years now for truly making a difference in an area that we all care deeply about and that is our public safety.

And I know our elected officials, our senators, our assemblymembers were recognized, I want to give them just a round of applause for all of them because, they fight for you every single day in our state legislature.

It's great to be back here. I think this is maybe my 300th plus trip out this way. Who's counting? And I just want to say here, we're talking about something that's critically important. Something that I care very deeply about, and that is keeping New Yorkers safe. And I will say, as we begin this conversation, you know, we take the protection of every individual in our state, whether they're a resident or a visitor, we take that very seriously.

It is heartbreaking to learn that within the last hour, a prominent individual, Salman Rushdie, was attacked on a stage in Western New York, just before he was about to give a speech. He is alive. He has been transported, airlifted to safety, but he is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power. Someone who's been out there unafraid despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life, it seems. And it happened at a site that is a place that's very familiar to me. A very tranquil, rural community known as Chautauqua, Chautauqua Institution, where the most preeminent speakers and thought leaders and politicians and justices, and everyone come together to have the free expression of thought.

So, this is a place ideally suited for him to be able to speak, and that's what he was attempting to do just in the last hour before he was attacked. And I want to commend the State Police. It was a state police officer who stood up and saved his life, protected him, as well as the moderator who was attacked as well. We're monitoring the situation, but he's getting the care he needs at a local hospital. We will be giving more information on the identity of the perpetrator and the case that'll be brought in that part of the state.

So, I just wanted to share that with you because it hits right here. It hits all of us, but we are undeterred then. We are undeterred in our commitment to make sure that we call it out, we condemn what happened, we condemn all violence, and we want people to feel that freedom to speak and to write truth. And I'll continue to protect that every single day as your Governor.

So, today we're here to talk about protecting people in another way. Those are our red flag laws, and we made significant changes. And I want to thank the legislature for being at the forefront of making changes to strengthen Red Flag Laws. And for a long time, I'm not sure if anybody knew what Red Flag Laws were. And what's a red flag? You put up a red flag, what does that mean? A red flag means something's out there. A flag has gone up. And maybe it's raised really high, and it's real obvious and maybe it's not, but there are still signs of danger. Something's not right that demands a response. And the laws allow people who are in positions of authority, law enforcement to take steps to make sure that people who are in this category, showing signs that they could do harm themselves or to others are stopped and to not have guns in their possession. And that's what this is all about.

And you know, we're in the middle of a nationwide crisis right now. We truly are, we truly are. One that's claiming far too many lives here in New York. And on May 14th, we just spoke about the southern part of western New York, and an area I know very well -- what happened this morning. On May 14th, something happened right in the City of Buffalo, in the western part of our state. And that was something that was a compelling reminder of the vulnerability of our citizens.

Even those who are shopping in a grocery store, literally 10 minutes from where my husband and I live, 10-minute car drive. We know this neighborhood well. And an 18 year old who was able to walk into a store and buy an AR-15, go across the border of Pennsylvania, not far from where he lived, be able to buy a high capacity magazine, upload that, traveled three hours down the road to a place that he identified as having the largest black population within the closest driving range of him. And that's why he targeted this neighborhood.

And I've been back many times, people are still afraid, they're afraid to go to the grocery store. The lives that are shattered, everyone from a father of a three-year-old out there getting cupcakes for the birthday, all the way up to an 86-year-old grandmother and the mother of our former Police Commissioner. So, you leave that and you say, "What more can we do? What more can we do?" So, the legislature acted quickly. And I commend them for being so responsive to our call for help at this time. And we signed a comprehensive, nation-leading package that gave us here in the State of New York, the toughest gun laws in America and we made them even tougher.

And so, what did we do? We banned the sale of large capacity magazines. We made sure that the sale of body armor - this individual could have been stopped when they went in the store because they were shot by the security person. But they had body armor, the type of which you'd use on a battlefield. Ordinary citizens should not be able to purchase that. They can no longer do that in the State of New York. We also made sure that all these cases are reported all incidents of violence, and sharing information that was not shared before is now in state and federal databases. And I also directed the Attorney General, who I just spoke with about this last night, to do even more investigating social media platforms. Where people are telegraphing what they're going to do, it is getting to be so obvious. Just look what happened in Ohio with the FBI, an attack, this person didn't just think of this one day and walk in and do that. He telegraphed what he's going to do on social media platforms. So, the information's out there. The intent is out there.

And I've called upon, and we'll continue to do this, we've had meetings with the leaders of these social media platforms, and saying, "You have a responsibility to make sure that when your people notice this, and you need to have an early warning system, you need to have your own red flag system, that we know about it, law enforcement know it, so we can thwart these attacks."

And so, how do we do that? In addition to what we did on banning AR-15s from teenagers buying them, many other things we've done. We also did strengthen our Red Flag Laws because this way we can keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those who are threat to themselves or society. As I mentioned, the Buffalo shooters said what he would do. He fell through the cracks, and as we left there, determined to make meaningful changes, I signed an executive order almost immediately. And I required our State Police, not an option, but a requirement, that they file a protection order whenever they have probable cause to believe that an individual is a threat to themselves or others. And on June 6th, I signed into state law, that that expanded it to all law enforcement agencies. So now, when the signs are there, they can immediately get guns out of the hands of these individuals. They do it temporarily at first, there's a judge involved, and then you determine whether or not that needs to be permanent. But the immediate risk, immediate situation is diffused. And the superintendent may mention this, literally within a day or so of us signing this, on a highway in Western New York. I don't want to keep throwing Western New York into the focus of our attention, but in Western New York, a driver was acting radically, posted a threat, did some things. The very savvy, smart, trained State Police officer, saw some signs. They go back and find that he had a whole cache of weapons on him and his home.

This is what we're talking about. We're talking about connecting the dots before something happens. I want to be in the business of preventing crimes, more so than trying to solve. A red flag allows us to do that. So we signed this 88 days ago, 88 days. That's kind of early to start saying, "Is it really working?" You usually need, you know, let's evaluate in six months or a year, but we have such good news about the effectiveness of what our new enhanced red flag laws have done that I need to share them with you here today. Since we did this, the orders of protection filed by State Police alone have increased nearly 94 percent, 94 percent. In those 88 days, over 184 orders of protection have been filed. And that's double the entire amount from last year alone, all of last year, 365 days, 95 were filed.

In 88 days this year, we've had 184. That is extraordinary. That is a major, major step in the right direction. And we're proud of that. And again, I thank law enforcement for now using this tool to protect our citizens. And because we have to be proactive about this. That's how we save lives, and I'm going to continue to thank law enforcement for protecting us every single day, because they're out there making this happen. And why are we here in Suffolk County? Because you're doing it the best. You truly are. You've taken this seriously. You say "We have a tool here we can use, we can do this to protect our citizens." And when red flag laws first became into effect, they became, they led New York. They still lead New York, using this lifesaving tool to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who will do harm to themselves.

And so, since May 16th, we enhanced the ability of law enforcement to take action. Over 114 orders of protection served in Suffolk County alone. That's a 75 percent increase overall of last year as well. So, I want to thank them for the 90 percent increase, literally just from June to July. Thank you. Thank you. And they're averaging over 14 a week. Now this is concerning. I'm glad they're on top of this, but that means that every single week in Suffolk County alone, there's 14 individuals who've come to the attention of law enforcement, that they could be dangerous, they have guns and the guns may be taken out of their hands. So I look forward to getting to the day when we don't have that phenomenon, and we're down to zero because people are not in this situation. But until that time, we're going to make sure that we are making long Islanders and all New Yorkers safe, but we're not done with that, that's not the only part of our comprehensive strategy I want to mention to you today. I'm also here today to announce that New York State's Division of Criminal Justice Services is partnering with every town to provide training on protection orders, because there's a lot of information we're gleaning, so Suffolk County knows what to look for. You know how to make this successful.

So, on August 24th, every town will be teaming up with our law enforcement professionals across the state to do training. It'll be available to all law enforcement agencies across the entire State of New York. We're also working with the Municipal Police Training Council, to have a model law, the ERPO law they called it, the Extreme Risk Protection Order, which will be adopted later this year. I'm also here today to announce that New York State's Division of Criminal Justice Services is partnering with every town to provide training on protection orders because there's a lot of information we're gleaning, so Suffolk County knows what to look for. You know how to make this successful.

I'll be announcing something else later because I said, "Not only do I want to training module, and video training, and different ways we can train the trainer for law enforcement, also in our schools." I want to make sure that all the teachers, administrators, parents, guidance counselors that they know what their rights are. Because that's how we protect the little kids playing out here today. That's how we protect them. We see those signs early, we stop it. That's what we do. And so, we're continuing — Superintendent knows that last January, I said, "What else can we do to get illegal guns out of the hands of people who will use them to harm?"

And we launched the first-in-the-nation consortium of nine states, nine states, and including NYPD and Boston PD and all the states around, and asked them to come together and to work for the first time in history work as one team. Not competitive, but the people who are trafficking guns, they're coming through these states, and somebody seeing something somewhere and that intelligence should not stop at their state border. Let's share that information. Let's bring it together. And the state police here in New York is leading that. So, as a result of that, launched in January, we've seen a 104 percent increase in gun seizures by New York State law enforcement. This year, that's over 6,000 gun seizure since last time. So, that's extraordinary. That's how we're making a difference. And it's also — we realize it's not enough to just have the toughest laws in the books, we all have to double down on other solutions, and that is to support our law enforcements. I've said a number of times, we've dramatically increased our investments into what we do at the state police level, ramping up our surveillance of domestic terrorism activities.

I just launched a meeting on that a couple days ago on training. That's going on, but also investing in programs. We have 10 million out there to go to local governments to stand up these domestic terrorism watch centers. And so, we're going to continue funding at that level. Also the community engagement, we know that the violence disruptors sometimes it's former -- people who've been incarcerated, who've made the wrong decisions at an earlier point in their lives. They're out there now as part of our team, part of our army to stop the specter of gun violence. So, we've tripled the amount of investment into those programs as well.

And as you know, we had a little Supreme Court situation at the end of June. We'll talk about abortion another day because that's was a real hit to all of us in this country. Stripping away rights that women had taken for granted my entire adult life, that my granddaughter now no longer has. So, we're focused on those issues, but just to add real insult to injury, the Supreme Court overturned a law we've had on the books for 108 years that said that state government, a governor can protect her citizens from people being able to go anywhere they want with a concealed gun. Trains, schools, houses of worship, or huge arenas, Islanders games — So, we said, "No." And the legislature, I thank you again. You came back, said the work is not finished even though the session may have been and we called back for an extraordinary session.

And now what we're doing is we're developing the regulations. We will be announcing them on August 31st because they go into effect on September 1st. We've been having countless meetings with our law enforcement team to get this right. We have to get this right. And we've established a policy on restricting weapons in sensitive places. We're defining what sensitive places are. And all of you look like you have a lot of common sense. There'll be common sense places where you would say, "I don't think someone should have a gun here." So, we're using standards that'll be legally sustainable. We're making sure of that, but there'll be a lot of places where you'll say, "Yeah, I understand that. That makes sense to me." And including all the places I mentioned and others, so that information's coming out.

Also, we enhanced our safe storage with a lot of guns getting in the hands of children a lot. A lot of lives are lost that way. And whether you're transporting a vehicle or at home, we now want people to have them required to be safe safely stored. Also, background checks for ammunition purchases. Makes sense, doesn't it? Makes sense. Let's find out who's purchasing the weapons, the ammunition that is filling our weapons, as well as banning the body armor.

So, I could go on a long time, but today we focus on the success, the Red Flag Law -- it's working. It's working best here in Suffolk County. I want to put a spotlight on your efforts here, County Executive, and your entire team, and the Sheriff and the Police Commissioner. I want to spotlight that is a model for the rest of the state. We're proud of that, but I'm also here to say our work is not done. Our work is not done. And I look at Linda Schulman and Michael and everyone else who have been on this fight a long time. And I thank you for participating here today. Our fight is not over, our fight is not over. So thank you, everyone.

And with that, let me let you hear from our Superintendent, Kevin Bruen, who's having to deal with a lot of what's happening in the western part of state, but I thank you for being here and helping spearhead some of these really important initiatives that I'm proud of. I'm going to keep pushing and pushing and pushing our state police to be a model for the nation in terms of how we deal with the spectrum of gun violence. And you're the leader. Thank you very much.

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