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Monroe County looks to repeal police 'annoyance law'

Jeremy Moule
CITY Newspaper
Roc/ACTS President Gayle Harrison speaks out against a proposed county law that would make it a misdemeanor to intentionally “annoy, alarm or threaten the personal safety of” a police officer or other first responder.

A bipartisan effort is under way in Monroe County to repeal a newly enacted law that made intentionally annoying a police officer or first responder a misdemeanor.

Among the legislators now looking to undo the law is its original Republican sponsor, Legislator Karla Boyce, according to a news release issued Wednesday by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announcing the push.

Boyce was to join Bello and Democratic Minority Leader Vince Felder at a news conference Thursday to outline steps being taken to repeal the law.

The law, officially named “Prohibited Harassment of a Police Office, Peace Officer or First Responder in Monroe County,” criminalizes action that intentionally “annoys, alarms or threatens the personal safety of an officer” and carries a penalty of up to a year in jail, up to a $5,000 fine, or both.

The legislation was passed along party lines and signed into law by former County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo over the objections of Democratic legislators, criminal defense lawyers, and social justice activists who warned the measure was redundant, overly subjective, and unconstitutional.

After it became law, a string of police leaders, including Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter, Rochester Police Chief Laron Singletary, said they would not enforce it. The president of the Rochester police union, Michael Mazzeo, panned the law, saying it did not represent the needs or wants of his officers.

The release did not say why Boyce has apparently turned on her own law. Attempts by CITY to connect with her on her cell phone were unsuccessful, although she did return a message left for her.  

Felder vocally opposed the law and voted against it, while Bello had vowed to repeal it.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at