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N.Y. State Police stepping in to assist Syracuse LE during Biden visit in wake of fallen officer funerals

Gov. Kathy Hochul dispatched the state police to provide event security after the agencies touched by the loss of two officers expressed concerns about being able to provide adequate coverage


President Joe Biden highlights details of Micron’s promised $100 billion investment in a microchip plant in Clay during a visit to Onondaga Community College. Dennis Nett |

Dennis Nett/TNS

By Mark Weiner

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — New York state troopers are stepping up to fill in for grieving Syracuse police officers who don’t want to work a special security detail Thursday when President Joe Biden visits Central New York, 11 days after two officers were killed in an ambush.

“Other than specialty units and some command level leaders, all Syracuse police personnel working the detail for President Biden’s visit will be on a volunteer status,” Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile said in a statement Tuesday.

He thanked the state police for offering personnel to reduce the number of Syracuse officers required to work.

Syracuse police are usually ordered to work the special security shifts for presidential visits, or are prevented from taking days off, which are called “red line” days, said Lt. Matthew Malinowski, a police spokesperson.

The decision to offer relief for the grieving officers follows days of phone calls and meetings between Biden administration and Syracuse officials about how to handle the president’s visit on the heels of the police shootings.

Cecile said he initially expressed concerns about the timing to Secret Service officials last week.

But Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh accepted an offer from Gov. Kathy Hochul to have state police cover for city police, as troopers did during the funerals for the officers Saturday and Monday.

Cecile and Walsh said in statements that they didn’t ask the White House to delay the visit and are confident the department can handle the extra security demands on Thursday.

“We did, however, in early conversations with the Secret Service, express our concern about SPD’s capacity to adequately cover this detail, as we were grieving the loss of two fallen officers…and planning their services,” Cecile said in the statement.

“Having said that, we are now fully engaged with Secret Service and all of our local law enforcement partners to ensure the president’s visit is seamless,” the statement said.

In his statement, Walsh also said the police will be able to handle Biden’s visit.

Onondaga County Sheriff Toby Shelley is also confident his department will have no problem performing its duties during the president’s visit.

“He obviously wished that it would have been postponed because of everything that’s going on,” said Tom Newton, speaking for Shelley. “But he understands the nature of presidential visits. It’s going to be a lot of people working together like we always do.”

The White House received criticism over the planned visit from the head of Syracuse’s police union, who wanted Biden to postpone the visit.

“There’s a lot of frustration among the membership about how insensitive the Biden administration appears to be,” Joe Moran, president of the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association, told | The Post-Standard.

“I cannot believe he’s moving forward with this visit, given all that has gone on here this past week,” Moran said hours after the funeral of Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Hoosock on Monday, and days after the funeral for Syracuse police officer Michael Jensen on Friday.

Moran, who represents nearly 400 Syracuse police officers, said he did not formally communicate his union’s concerns to the White House or local elected officials, but he did inform Cecile.

When asked about the timing of the visit, a White House official said, “Our team has been working closely with state and local officials to ensure that the president’s visit this Thursday is carried out in the most respectful way for the families and the community.”

Biden will visit Syracuse for an event tied to the CHIPS and Science Act that lured Micron Technology to Central New York.

He will talk about the historic deal to provide Micron with $6.1 billion in federal grants for the company’s planned $100 billion complex of computer chip plants in the town of Clay and a smaller project in Idaho.

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