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From the Sheriff: How should the police engage in crowd control?

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Wayne County government will be working to address Executive Order No. 203 — New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative through community engagement, planning, listening and learning, and with public comments.

The Sheriff’s Office understands that people have a right to protest, rally and be involved in peaceful demonstrations as granted by their First Amendment rights.

In the recent Wayne County Black Lives Matter rallies and in other previous demonstrations over the years, it has been the intent and focus of this office to protect demonstrators and counter-demonstrators their right to rally conveying peaceful attention to the issues of their respective concern(s).

Our presence is not to stop or curtail peaceful demonstrations, but to ensure safety and order. In most cases, the organizers and a member of this office meet prior to the rally to work out safe routes, traffic control and strategies in case problems do evolve.

General Order 215 guides deputy sheriffs through the process of peaceful demonstrations.

If the demonstration evolves to the destruction of property, actions that cause injury and/or the possibility of loss of life, general orders 212 (Use of Force), 213 (Less Lethal), 244 (Arrest General) and 246 (Transport Policy) guide the deputy sheriffs through the processes to restore order to maintain the safety and to protect those peaceful demonstrators, property and lives of others.