Vasquez announces candidacy in Rockland sheriff race



NEW CITY – Woodbury Police Chief Richard Vasquez threw his hat
into the ring for the Rockland Sheriff’s race on Monday, officially announcing
his intent to run against current Sheriff Louis Falco.

Speaking before a crowd of supporters, many of whom were affiliated with
the Rockland County Correction Officers Benevolent Association, Vasquez
spoke of revamping the sheriff’s department to improve its efficiency,
modernity and engagement with other local police departments and the community.

“This campaign is not about me and it’s not about the current sheriff
and it isn’t about any one single person or special interest,” Vasquez
said. “It’s about the people of Rockland County and how we can ensure
that we are as safe and secure as possible.”

Arguing the sheriff’s department “must no longer be referred to
as a duplication or an unnecessary service,” Vasquez stated he will
focus on not only updating police tactics, training and organization but
working to clean up redundancies and waste, a common complaint directed
at the department by officers and members of the public.

“The general consensus in the county is that they are a duplication
of service,” Vasquez pointed out. “I don’t believe that myself,
but I do believe, however, that when I am in office they will be performing
an essential function to serve the people of the county.”

The candidate also promised to strengthen police responses to issues such
as drug enforcement, terrorism, Medicaid and welfare fraud, building and
zoning code enforcement and public corruption, promising to enforce the
law without favoritism and to target whichever crimes came to light.

Though Vasquez did not explicitly mention grievances among current officers,
it is known the Correction Officers Benevolent Association issued its
endorsement partly as a response to growing concerns of Falco’s treatment
of their contract. The union represents over 150 members of Falco’s department.

According to union president John Cocuzza, Falco has failed to train officers
in areas such as mental health and even deliberately hindered union efforts
to meet diversity standards for women and minorities, particularly at
the county jail.

“The sheriff claims that he runs the department with fairness, with
integrity, and with compassion, but he has failed at every level so far,”
Cocuzza argued.

For his strong backing, Vasquez was anticipated as a favorite among Rockland
Republicans seeking to unseat Falco. Even before his announcement, the
candidate received a formal endorsement from Rockland County Correction
Officers Benevolent Association in late February.

A consequent showing was made by many big names in local Republican leadership.
Supporters in attendance included County Legislator Lon Hofstein, Receiver
of Taxes Bob Simon, Clarkstown GOP Chairman Ralph Sabatini and GOP County
Chairman Lawrence Garvey.

Though he was not in attendance, County Executive Edwin Day, whose targeting
of the sheriff’s department for job cuts in 2014 chilled his relationship
with Falco, might also throw his support behind Vasquez.

A current Rockland County resident who works primarily in Orange County,
Vasquez spent time as an artilleryman in the U.S. Army Reserves before
he began his 23-year career in law enforcement. Since then he has served
in a number of investigative and leadership positions in the NYPD including
stints as a lieutenant commanding officer in the Detective Bureau, a sergeant
in Internal Affairs, a special operations lieutenant for the Transit Bureau
and the commanding officer of the Crime Prevention Section and Community
Affairs Bureau.

Vasquez also has a long list of educational and academic titles, including
a degree from the FBI National Academy, a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
from John Jay College and a position as adjunct professor at Rockland
Community College, where he teaches criminal investigation and multicultural
law enforcement.

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