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Katko introduces monthly award for first responders

Ellen Abbott
Republican Congressman-elect John Katko prepares for next month's swearing in ceremony.

Once Republican John Katko begins representing central New York's 24th Congressional District next month, he says he plans to take time to praise police in an era when police-community relations have become strained.

When Katko was a federal prosecutor in Syracuse, he worked a great deal with police officers and came across some of the bad apples.

"I’ve prosecuted corrupt police officers, and it broke my heart to see them involved in bad conduct," Katko explained. "But they were held accountable, and you should hold them accountable. But people have got to remember the vast majority of police officers, oh my God, the overwhelming majority do a great job day-in and day-out.”

That’s why Katko plans to start presenting first responders, including police, with a monthly award.

"Either it’s a heroic act, or something good they’re doing in the community," Katko said. "Whatever it is, we’re going to honor them and do a news release or a press conference, so people see there is another side to law enforcement and first responders. They’re not all bad by any means, and maybe we’ll help the dialogue and balance it out.”

Katko says the weekend shooting of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn, in retaliation for the police killings of unarmed black men, shines the light on an issue that should be discussed. But he says there should be a balance between the protests that criticize police, and hopes his monthly award can help do that.

“Yes, officers should be held accountable when they do something wrong, and yes a discussion should be had about it," Katko said. "And yes, we should learn from it and everything, but we also have to praise them."

The congressman-elect takes office in early January.

Schumer shows support for fallen officers, NYPD

The police officer deaths in New York City happened in U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s hometown of Brooklyn. He says the most important thing to do now is to pay respects to the families of the slain officers, but he also wants to remember all NYPD officers at this time.

“They risk their lives to keep us safe," Schumer said. "They do an amazingly good job  And we have to pledge to them that we will do everything in our power to prevent this from happening again.”

Schumer wouldn’t say if there are any federal policies that could be applied to this situation.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.