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Seneca County responds after supervisor says Cayuga Nation police should be stripped of guns

As debate continues in Seneca and Cayuga counties regarding the legitimacy of the Cayuga Nation Police Force – one supervisor from the Town of Seneca Falls sounded off in a profanity-laced email to other local officials and the press.

Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro called on Seneca County’s lawyers to take action; and for local law enforcement to ‘stop hiding’ behind a blue wall.

Supervisor Lazzaro’s email was in response to an exchange between Seneca County Attorney David Ettman and Brian Laudadio, who is part of the County’s litigation team.

At the center of the issue is the status of the recently-formed Cayuga Nation Police Force, which was developed to police Nation-owned property.

Supervisor Lazzaro contended at an earlier Board of Supervisors meeting that the police force was illegitimate and working outside its jurisdiction. It prompted the County to issue a statement, reminding local residents to not pull over if a Nation-owned police vehicle initiates a traffic stop.

There have still been no reports confirmed of CIN police attempting to initiate traffic stops in Seneca or Cayuga counties on public roads.

Supervisor Lazzaro also contends that the officers on the force are illegally and illegitimately possessing firearms. Many of them are retired state police and deputies from surrounding communities.

In that profanity-laced email, Supervisor Lazzaro called on officials and lawyers in Seneca County to act. “Want my response, you lawyers are full of shit,” Lazzaro said. “The police are hiding behind a blue wall; arrest all the Cayuga Indian Police, take their guns away from them! Please do not send me any more of this bull shit if you do not intend to do anything.”

A photo of Lazzaro’s response to Brian Laudadio and David Ettman is included in this story to verify remarks made. Lazzaro sent that email to multiple members of the press.

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington recently ruled that the Cayuga Nation Police Force, which was established in 2018 has the authority to enforce its own criminal laws against Indians within the boundaries of the reservation.

The debate surrounds the status of that land, which is not technically in federal trust. There’s a total of approximately 64,015 acres in play.

Local law enforcement, officials, and other stakeholders have been in a holding pattern with the matter as it continues to play out in the courts.

County Manager Mitch Rowe released the following statement on behalf of Seneca County regarding the situation:

“In October of 2018 the Seneca County Board of Supervisors Adopted a Resolution which, in part, took the position that the employees of the Cayuga Nation do not have the authority to engage in law enforcement activities in Seneca County.  That said, the County is not currently in litigation over the policing issue.  We will monitor actions that may arise and look at all options that are available to us going forward.”

Reporting in this story by Josh Durso. He hosts a pair of podcasts on FingerLakes1.com. Check out Inside the FLX and Sunday Conversation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Anchor.FM.  Email tips and leads to josh@fingerlakes1.com.

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