With an old case of a murdered cop coming back into the spotlight, Republican state senator Greg Ball is calling for legislation in New York that would prevent parole for any convicted felon who murders a law enforcement official.
Ball, in a press release in late January, referenced to the parole hearing of Joseph Comfort, who murdered investigator Robert L. VanHall Jr. in 1980. On Dec. 5 of that year, he was shot in back with a sawed-off, double barrel shotgun while on duty and died.
Now as Comfort’s sentence is under review, Ball is calling for parole hearings like this one to not exist in the first place and is urging New York residents to sign a petition proposing no parole for cop killers.
In an interview, Ball said he actually supports the death penalty for cop killers and terrorists, but with that unlikely, he’d like to see those killers never have a chance to get out of prison.
“Unfortunately what we’ve seen in New York State is not only do we not use the death penalty against the worst of these criminals,” Ball said. “But these killers, who have targeted continuously, come up for parole.”
Ball admitted he does receive calls from constituents that question whether the legislation is creating two different types of protection between law enforcement officials and the average civilian. But Ball noted law enforcement officials put their life on the line every time they go to work.
He hopes the law would act a deterrent.
“We have to send a very clear message if you kill a cop,” he said. “You will either be killed or you’ll never be eligible for parole.”
Ball added it’s sad state of affairs that families of the victims and the law enforcement community must collect old information every few years in order to ensure criminals aren’t release by the parole board.
Ball hopes to build a coalition of bipartisan support for the bill, but noted the legislation might be tough to get through the state assembly, which tends to lean more liberal, Ball said.
Carmel resident and co-chair of the New York Fraternity of Police, Jimmy O’Neil supports Ball’s legislation. He noted there are many parole hearing that involve murdered law enforcement coming up in the near future.
O’Neil said currently the parole system is set up to put victims and their families at a disadvantage. The former New York City police officer’s own partner was murdered and he serves on the victim panel for that slain officer’s family during parole hearings.
While O’Neil would like to see legislation changed, he did point out members on parole board are the upmost professionals, but the system is broken.
“This is not an attack at all on the individual parole board members or commissioners,” he said. “What we are talking about is the system in place that really puts crime victims and in this case, the family of cop killer victims at a great disadvantage.”
To sign Ball’s petition residents can visit http://www.nysenate.gov/webform/no-parole-cop-killers-0