Syracuse, NY – New York state officials have banned off-duty law enforcement officers from carrying their firearms onto New York State Fairground property this year.
The state fair has been a gun-free-zone for citizens for some time, but off-duty law enforcement officers who show their identification at the gates have historically been allowed to carry their weapons on the grounds, WETM reported.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) opted to make a change for this year’s state fair, which will run from Aug. 24 to Sep. 5.
“Police officers that are ‘On-duty’ will be permitted to carry, however, the State Dept of Ag and Markets has elected to NOT allow ‘Off-duty’ police and peace officers to carry department or personally owned firearms on the property,” New York State Police (NYSP) Major Michael TenEyck said in an email sent to law enforcement agencies throughout the state on Tuesday.
The state fair’s website notes that “law enforcement personnel and Peace Officers” are allowed to carry firearms at the fairgrounds and does not mention anything about whether officers are off- or on-duty, WETM reported.
Military personnel are also not mentioned in the exceptions, according to the Times Union.
“The Fair has a longstanding policy of banning guns on the Fairgrounds, and this policy has not changed,” a State Fair spokesperson told WETM.
Many law enforcement officers are trained to carry their duty weapons even when they aren’t on shift, Manlius Police Chief Michael Crowell told the news outlet.
“Really a police officer is never off duty, essentially we always are subject to being called in or may have to react in an emergency situation,” Chief Crowell noted.
He said he believes fewer off-duty officers will attend ceremonial events and Law Enforcement Day festivities this year in light of the policy change.
Cicero Police Chief Steve Rotunno said the ban goes against logic.
“You have police officers that are highly trained with years of experience, proficient in carrying a weapon and now they can’t even carry it into the New York State Fair while they’re off duty, just makes no sense to me,” said Chief Rotunno, who is also the president of the Central New York Chiefs of Police Association.
“God forbid, there’s an active shooter or any other type of incident where an officer may have to act,” he added.