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State Assemblyman Matt Slater (R/Yorktown) has introduced legislation that would prohibit convicted killers of police officers from making parole.
Slater’s bill was triggered by the New York State Parole Board’s recent decision to release Scott Cobb, who drove the getaway car in the 1988 assassination of New York Police Department Officer Edward Byrne, this month.
Despite the heinousness of the crime, some do argue that society as a whole benefits most when parole boards also eventually consider an inmate’s potential for rehabilitation and successful reintegration into society, rather than solely considering the seriousness of the original crime and criminal history, even when it comes to the most unforgivable acts.
That said, Slater believes parole boards can’t be trusted with wiggle room.
“If you kill a police officer, you should never see the light of day again. It’s really that simple and it’s clear that the Parole Board cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of all New Yorkers,” Slater stated. “Democratic majorities in both the State Assembly and the State Senate have a moral obligation to act on this vital legislation immediately.”
During the last six years, Slater said the Parole Board has released 36 criminals convicted of murdering police officers.
In 1988, Byrne was a rookie officer in the NYPD who was killed in Queens in a murder-for-hire execution by Cobb and three accomplices while guarding a witness planning to testify against a New York City drug kingpin. Cobb was convicted of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Two of the other men convicted of Byrne’s murder will also be eligible for parole this fall.
Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble, President of the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association, said he was “outraged” that Cobb is being released from jail.
“NYPD Police Officer Eddie Byrne was 22 years old when he was executed in cold blood by a ruthless murderer, Scott Cobb, who is now being paroled. What message does that send to law abiding citizens who rely on people like Eddie Byrne to protect them and assist them on what is usually their worst day?” Noble said. “As a police chief, I am outraged that Cobb is being released from prison. As a human and New York State resident, I am bitterly disappointed. You kill a cop, you get life without parole. End of story.”
Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville said it’s clear the parole system needs an overhaul.
“The murder of NYPD Officer Byrne is an unthinkable reality that law enforcement faces every day. This legislation is important for the criminal justice system to survive,” he stated. “Police Officers go to work with the knowledge that at any moment they may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. These offices need to know that the criminal justice system will support their sacrifice. Assemblyman Slater’s legislation will begin that process.”
The federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program was named after Byrne. It is the leading federal source of criminal justice funding to state and local governments—supporting law enforcement, prosecutors and courts, drug treatment and enforcement, crime victim’s programs and prevention and education initiatives. Since 2005, more than $7.6 billion in law enforcement Byrne grant funding has been distributed by the federal government.
“The parole board’s decision is a travesty to law enforcement across New York State,” said Slater, whose 94th Assembly District includes parts of Putnam and Westchester counties, including the towns of Kent, Patterson, Putnam Valley, Carmel, Southeast, Somers, and Yorktown, as well as the Village of Brewster. “I will proudly stand with our police and first responders, and I will always fight to hold Albany accountable to the people protecting our families and communities.”
This article was updated after its original publication to include a link to an additional perspective.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/