Events have occurred in recent months that have brought a heightened focus on law enforcement in our county. I would like to offer some observations. I suggest that an intelligent, vigorous, interest in how we, as a society, police ourselves is an important and welcome exercise. When done properly it allows for renewed understanding of the impressions, accurate or otherwise, people have. And, hopefully, with this discussion a better learning of important issues and, where change is needed, the impetus for change. I, for one, welcome this discussion.
However, I opine that as a society we should be able to have an intelligent conversation regarding these important issues with respect and civility. Although feelings are very deep on these subjects, it is important to have an honest discussion without exaggeration or bastardization of facts.
Of course I cannot speak for all people in law enforcement across this country, but I can and do speak for the men and women in Ulster County who serve and protect you. Across the board, these people, our law enforcement officers and prosecutors are good, honest, deeply committed people, many of whom I am proud to consider my friends.
The work that we do is not easy. Citizens of the United States enjoy more civil rights than in any other country in the world. We enjoy more civil rights in New York State than any other state in the union. I, for one, would have it no other way. But the reality is there are savage, dangerous criminals who live amongst us. For example, in Ulster County we have four pending homicide indictments. Over the past years during my term in office we have seen gang executions, sexual serial predators and untold domestic violence. As a nation we have been attacked by terrorists. As a world community we witness appalling atrocities. These are facts.
We rely on our law enforcement personnel to protect us and yet we all cherish our personal freedoms and liberties. Where is the balance? Is it OK to monitor a terrorist’s cell phone to stop him from planting a bomb on the subway? Is it OK to search the cell records of two individuals to arrest them for placing shrapnel bombs on Boylston Street in Boston on April 15, 2013?
In 1995 the City of New York had 1,182 murders. Last year New York City experienced 335 murders. In years past the New York City police, consistent with the laws of New York, had an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy to try and get illegal handguns out of the hands of criminals. Today, New York City has changed that policy.
These are complicated issues which I view as vitally important to us and which help define us as a society. I welcome these discussions but ask only that we engage in intelligent civil behavior and above all I ask that you respect the men and women who may not be perfect, but who put their lives on the line to protect your way of life.
Holley Carnright, Kingston
(Editor’s note: The above was posted on the district attorney’s Facebook page last Tuesday night.)
Letter was misleading
William Sheldon’s Dec. 11 letter was misleading at best. Claiming I was the chairman of the Railroad Advisory Committee for many years while deviously working hand-in-glove for the Catskill Mountain Railroad and then claiming I recently resuscitated the Railroad Advisory Committee and assumed chairmanship is contradictory.
The last chairman of the Railroad Advisory Committee quit when he and members learned through the press that the County initiated an early end to CMRR’s lease. They got the Kingston to Phoenicia trail only plan the same way. I was not on that committee. The Legislature recreated the long-standing Railroad Advisory Committee in 2014. I was appointed to serve and chair a few months ago.
Sheldon claims the “experts” state a rail with trail is unworkable. His “experts” work at the pleasure of the executive and were commissioned after the Kingston-to-Phoenicia trail-only plan was created with trail-only advocates. Since, there has been a push to shut down the CMRR through the weight of government and lawsuits. “Trail” people, like Kathy Nolan and Chris White, the deputy county planner, further attempt to disrupt Railroad Advisory Committee meetings. White, an “expert” that serves at the executive’s pleasure, has no previous municipal planning experience and his work record prior shows mostly political appointments.
Last year, the “experts” dismissed a Kingston rail with trail. Now that is the new plan. In reality, there is no successful two-mile historic railroad. A few more miles and a connection to the main line are needed, or it is unsustainable.
A corridor study for the Ulster County Transportation Council by Alta Planning and Design in July 2006 was the last done without preconceived solutions. It paints a different picture.