You are reading

Council Candidate Hosts Community Meeting With NYPD Officers In Campaign Office, Faces Criticism 

(Photo courtesy of Émelia Decaudin)

May 27, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A city council candidate who held a public meeting on crime with NYPD officers in his campaign office last week has come under fire for allegedly using public employees to promote his campaign.

Brent O’Leary, who is running for city council in District 26, hosted a meeting for Spanish-speakers in his Sunnyside campaign office Thursday where he brought in officers from the local 108th Precinct to discuss crime.

O’Leary said that residents and local tenant groups had asked him to organize a meeting with police officers who speak Spanish, so that they could have their safety concerns heard.

He said that he has known the officers from the 108 Precinct for years and that he was providing a much-needed community service.

However some residents felt the meeting — which was promoted with flyers that had O’Leary’s campaign logo and face on them — was taking advantage of the NYPD and that the precinct should not have sent officers to a campaign office. 

Émelia Decaudin, a Democratic District Leader representing the 37th Assembly District, spotted flyers for the meeting around her home in Sunnyside and stopped by the meeting briefly.

She said the flyers—which were in Spanish only— raised alarm bells. She felt it was inappropriate for uniformed on-duty NYPD officers to participate in a candidate’s event at their campaign office.

“I was surprised to see that the NYPD would be showing up at a campaign event,” Decaudin said. “As someone who’s worked in government, it’s drilled pretty heavily into you that you’re not supposed to attend those kind of events.”

An image of the flyer inviting the public to O’Leary’s campaign office to meet with the NYPD

Decaudin said four NYPD officers were present at the meeting and argued that they broke department regulations by being there.

The NYPD patrol guide prohibits officers from endorsing political candidates, or publicly expressing personal views and opinions concerning the merits of a candidate for office.

She said even if a formal endorsement wasn’t made, residents may take the officers’ participation in a meeting at O’Leary’s campaign office as an endorsement.

“I think it’s really important to remember that the appearance of being with a candidate in a campaign space is often enough regarded as an endorsement,” she said.

She added that O’Leary was wrong for involving the officers in his campaign.

A spokesperson for the NYPD, however, said that the four officers made no endorsement of O’Leary’s campaign and were present only to speak with residents about their concerns.

“The officers were present to discuss crime trends in the Precinct,” Sergeant Edward Riley said. “They did not endorse any candidate for public office.”

O’Leary said he has worked with officers from the 108 Precinct for years and asked them to come to the meeting at the request of the Latinx community leaders.

He said that as a part of canvasing the district, his team has been knocking on doors in the neighborhood and asking potential voters what issues they care about.

“We keep hearing safety especially from the Latino community and residents of NYCHA,” O’Leary told the Queens Post. “A number of the tenant leaders from the Latino community asked if we would be able to set up a meeting with the police so that they could express their concerns to the police department.”

He said that the tenant organizers created and distributed the flyer with his campaign logo on it and that the police officers didn’t see or approve the flyer beforehand.

O’Leary said about 50 people joined the meeting in person and even more joined online via Zoom.

He maintained that it was a meeting for community members to voice their concerns and not an endorsement from the officers.

“I think that my job as a community leader or as an elected official is to bridge the gap between the community and the government so that their needs are responded to,” O’Leary said.

He said that it was not a campaign event, but a meeting that the community asked for.

“I didn’t speak about my campaign. I let the community members have access to their police officers,” O’Leary said. “It was done at the request of Latino community leaders for their community in Spanish, so I was not promoting it as a campaign event. I was responding to their request to set it up.”

He added that it’s important that government serve constituents in the languages that they speak.

“It’s important that people whose first language is not English can access their government services and be responded to in the language that we need to serve them in.”

email the author: [email protected]

16 Comments

Click for Comments 
Roger the Shrubber

If you are serious about the rising crime rate, perhaps it might be a good idea to get some input from the people whose actual job it is to fight crime on a daily basis?

Sounds quite logical to any rational human being.

Unfortunately, logic is not the strong suit for left-wingers nowadays.

Reply
Gardens Watcher

There was a time when JVB had a good working relationship with the 108th. There were monthly NYPD meetings with the Sunnyside community to discuss concerns, including crime. JVB should have hosted such a meeting, but I guess there’s no time for that when you’re campaigning for your next job or joining another protest.

Emilia Decaudin may be a district leader on paper and online, but that’s about it.

Reply
Emilia is 100% correct

Emilia is absolutely in the right and has been a great district leader!

Unrelated, but did anyone even know that Manny Gomez is a Woodside district leader? He could certainly learn a lot from Emilia.

4
3
Reply
Concerned Citizen

Emilia obviously has never lived in a neighborhood dominated by gangs. We need law and order and the skyrocketing crime rate is my number one issue as a voter.

Reply
JaimeB

Thanks for posting. Now I know to add Brent O’Leary to my ballot, because he seems responsive to constituent concerns.

15
18
Reply
O’Leary has said he is pro-defund

What’s especially interesting is that Brent indicated in some progressive endorsement questionnaires and forums that he is for Defunding the Police. His which is it? Blue Lives Matter or Defund? Constituents deserve a representative who is honest about where they stand and doesn’t try to whatever side they need in the moment.

26
2
Reply
You could do a great political cartoon

When he speaks to the south side: we are going to build truly affordable housing! Black Lives Matter!

When he speaks to the north side: we are going to block Phipps from building truly affordable housing! Blue Lives Matter!

While Brent clearly has authoritarian populist instincts, I have been surprised to see how he has campaigned out of both sides of his mouth depending on his audience in his utter desperation to win election.

This event was pandering to the Latino community leaders who need to see through this and steer their voting block well clear of this candidate! Everyone needs to leave Brent off their ballot! No voten por O’Leary!

14
3
Reply
Karen

Get him Emelia!
Luckily someone spoke up or he would continue with his shady campaign.
Practice what you PREACH!

9
15
Reply
LIC DIRECT

What’s the big deal? They had a meeting, Spanish speaking Cops with the Latino the community. Why not challenge our current councilman and a host of other local politicians when they have taken contributions, money through PAC’s and non-profits disguised as donations, dinners, travels/airfare from special interests groups, Real Estate interests, etc.

19
6
Reply
That is absolutely a campaign poster

Will Brent continue acting like he was already elected when he isn’t elected in a month?

15
9
Reply
Got faux outrage?

Perhaps he is serious about stopping crime.

No doubt, that’s why liberals are upset over this. They want to outright defund the police.

25
9
Reply
old as dirt

is there anything they dont complain about? police offered NO endorsement…community requested Spanish speakers…get over yourself & move on

20
6
Reply
All politics

Emilia Decaudin and Jesse Laymon openly dislike the NYPD. Sunnyside Post printed their letter to stop summer rally for cops. Now she is worried about cops being used? Laymon is running for Van Bramer job. Van Bramer, Laymon, and Decaudin dislike the NYPD and O’Leary. If sincere, they would have tried to stop in advance.

25
6
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.