Rep. Langworthy in Elmira: “Our law enforcement officers are under attack”

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – New York congressman Nick Langworthy made two stops in Elmira on Friday. Mr. Langworthy represents the 23rd District covering Western New York and the Southern Tier. He started his day by making his first official visit to Elmira College, before holding a press conference outside of the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office.

“As we witness an alarming surge in criminal activity, it’s imperative that we confront a harsh reality,” said Rep. Langworthy. “Our law enforcement officers are under attack, period. Physically, they’re also under attack politically. They’re being targeted simply for doing their jobs.”

Congressman Langworthy was joined by Chemung County Sheriff Bill Schrom, Chemung County Undersheriff Douglas Houper, Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard, Schuyler County Undersheriff Andrew Zeigler, New York State Assemblyman Chris Friend, Chemung County Legislature Chair Mark Margeson, Elmira Mayor Dan Mandell and other officials.

Chemung County Sheriff’s Investigator in critical condition, man and woman arrested

Rep. Langworthy took aim at New York State bail and discovery reform as major contributors to increased crime and hostility towards police.

Hochul proposes changes to bail reform in 2024 budget

“Soft on crime policies have emboldened criminals, where our law enforcement officers are becoming targets of senseless violence,” Mr. Langworthy said. “We can point to an officer right here in the Southern Tier, right here in Chemung County. Investigator Michael Theetge, who was critically injured is he was hit by a shoplifter’s getaway car. He’s fighting for his recovery.”

“Do you have an update on how the investigator is doing today, or whatever you can share?” asked 18 News reporter Nick Dubina.

“Well, the Undersheriff met with him last Wednesday. He’s making great improvements,” said Chemung County Sheriff Bill Schrom. He’s got a long way to go. He’s speaking. He has limited mobility, he’s gotta get some strength back. His thoughts are a little mixed up at times, but everything he is doing is moving in the direction that we’re going to remain optimistic that he keeps going in that direction. So, so far so good,” Sheriff Schrom added.

Investigator Theetge was part of an operation against retail theft on March 29, 2024, when police say he tried to stop a man from leaving a Target in Big Flats with a TV and other items in a shopping cart without paying. Police say Theetge chased the suspect into the parking lot, where he was struck by the suspect’s getaway driver.

On April 18th, Governor Kathy Hochul announced $40.2 million will be included in the 2025 State Budget for “Dedicated retail theft teams for New York State Police and Local Law Enforcement.”

At Friday’s press conference, congressman Langworthy also spoke about the recent killings of Syracuse Police Officer Michael Jensen and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Michael Hoosock, and NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller.

“”I’m in my 47th year with the Sheriff’s Office in Tioga County,” said Sheriff Gary Howard. “When we first started, things were a lot different. It was a great community. It still is a great community, but things have to change. This catch and release program… they go to court and they’re back on the street before the deputies can get back in their patrol car.”

How you can help Investigator Theetge and his family

“This is my 31st year,” said Schuyler County Undersheriff Andrew Zeigler. “When I first started there were consequences when somebody broke the law. Now, there is no consequences.”

Mark Margeson is the Chair of the Chemung County Legislature and Chair of the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency.

“This small community that I grew up in, is starting to see the effects of what has gone on in the rest of the country. It’s kind of scary,” Margeson said. I have kids, I have grandkids that I want brought up into a nice area, so we don’t have to go through these problems.”

“Do you feel hopeful that it’s possible to reform or repeal bail reform, what are the actual possibilities here?” asked Dubina.

“Let me give you my two cents and I’ll turn over to the Assemblyman. “That’s why we have a press conference like this. Because we have to do our part in every corner of this State to say how dissatisfied we are with the current state of affairs, and restate the problem, and not just accept it as a fait accompli.”

“It’s definitely an uphill battle,” said New York State Assemblyman Chris Friend. “But moments like this, where we have large amounts of media coming out to present to the community what’s actually happening, are key to try to give the examples of what’s happening across the state.”

“The Governor has come forward to say she’s full on-board with trying to protect our police and public safety is going to be her top priority. We have yet to really see a strong demonstration of that, but we do have elections coming up this year,” Assemblyman Friend added.

“In June we have many primaries, so we’re going to see which candidate gets selected. Are we going to be going more radical, where we’re not going to be supporting law enforcement? Or are we going to elect candidates who are going to be more middle of the road and want to come back to American values and have public safety be a top priority again?”

You can watch the full press conference below:

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