GovernmentThe Examiner

Mt. Kisco Trustee Suggests Weapons Ban for Public at Village Properties

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Mount Kisco Trustee Lisa Abzun asked her fellow board members, including Mayor Michael Cindrich, to consider a ban on firearms on all village property last week after a meeting turned contentious last month.

A Mount Kisco village trustee has called on her board colleagues to discuss the possibility of instituting a weapons ban on all village property after a meeting last month turned nasty between members of the public.

Trustee Lisa Abzun urged her fellow board members to consider a policy that would prohibit anyone from carrying a firearm on village grounds except for on-duty law enforcement. She also wants a police officer present at all public meetings.

At the contentious May 20 Village Board meeting, Abzun said she was informed that one resident was verbally threatened by another member of the audience regarding his remarks during public comments. There were also claims from some in attendance that there were heated words between members of the public before and after the meeting.

“I bring my comments here tonight as a member of the Board of Trustees and for the public to hear and for the public to know that I care about maintaining a public environment that is safe and free from violence and threats of violence,” Abzun said.

Public comments that appeared to raise the ire of some in attendance surrounded the village’s trails and who would maintain them and how. Over the past year, there have also been worries about quality-of-life issues on the trails including people who are drunk and homeless individuals congregating nearby.

Abzun said last week in the more than two weeks since she sent off her request to her colleagues shortly after May 20, only Deputy Mayor Theresa Flora responded to her proposal, forcing her to carry her suggestion directly to the public.

With retired law enforcement members in attendance that night and emotions escalating, Abzun said she was concerned there could have been firearms in the Village Hall meeting room. However, she said she had no knowledge of anyone with a gun that night.

Current village policy prohibits employees outside of law enforcement from having a weapon, but there is currently nothing to prevent a citizen who has a legal firearm, said Village Manager Ed Brancati.

“Community members who watched our meeting have been telling me how shocked they were at what transpired that evening,” Abzun said during the June 3 meeting. “I would have thought that the people charged with maintaining the decorum at public meetings would have stepped up to bring the meeting back to some order. I think it’s a deplorable day for our community when individuals are threatening each other right in front of our eyes and as stewards of the community do nothing.”

Mayor Michael Cindrich, a longtime police officer who retired as a lieutenant in Mamaroneck, questioned Abzun whether her comments were directed at him. Although exempt from the village’s policy of forbidding employees to carry weapons, Cindrich said in his time on the board, which included a previous 14-year stint as mayor and additional time as a trustee, he has never carried a gun into Village Hall.

“I don’t carry a firearm in the building and I’ve never seen anybody carry a firearm in the building, but I think that this is something, the meeting did get out of hand,” Cindrich said. “I tried to shut it down and it was impossible.”

When reached late last week, Cindrich said he admonished one person during public comments, which seemed to help temporarily, but others in the audience could not control themselves.

“When there were other people speaking it became rather personal,” he said. “I tried to shut it down a couple of times but it just got into an ugly debate between the board and the individuals speaking.”

Cindrich, how defeated Abzun for mayor last November in a contentious campaign, said he considered calling for the meeting to be adjourned but decided against that option.

Abzun was critical of the mayor, who runs the meetings and is responsible for controlling them, for failing to maintain decorum. She said while there were testy meetings when former mayor Gina Pincinich was in office for six years, she set time limits and for the most part they were adhered to.

She said shutting down public comments is a poor way to combat unruly people.

“There just seemed to be more of a sense this is a public meeting, but it’s not a free-for-all, so there are rules,” Abzun said. “There are some limitations that have to be set, and some sense of decorum” maintained.

The three other board members did not address the issue at last week’s meeting. A message for Flora was not returned.









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