March 12, 2018
BATH, NY – The Steuben County Legislature Public Safety and Corrections Committee, recently heard from Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard, Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker and other officials, who wanted to see an increase the number of deputies doing drug arrests in Steuben County. The committee heard the district attorney talk about how four positions in county government are currently vacant, and that there was a possibility of four more deputies being hired and trained to do drug interdiction work. The vacant positions were: a Staff Social Worker, a Senior Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor, an Assistant Public Health Nurse Director and an Assistant Youth Program Director.
At this meeting, which was held last Monday, March 5, it was mentioned that this idea of hiring four new deputies was raised only one week before. However, Sheriff Jim Allard explained that this has been something the sheriff’s office has been working on for the past two years. The sheriff was quoted in the meeting minutes as saying that “drugs are coming into Steuben County unchecked”. Steuben County D.A. Brooks Baker stated that the longer this is debated, the more people that die, adding that two people have died since Monday, February 26, when the proposal was first introduced to county elected officials.
Bath Republican county lawmaker Kelly Fitzpatrick had the most questions and objections, but ended up voting for the proposal. From the meeting minutes:
Ms. Fitzpatrick stated in her own personal opinion, she is in favor of extra police presence and is in favor of combating the problem. She stated she has an office in the Village of Bath and last summer we had an issue and we saw new drug activity, new car activity, etc. We called it in and nothing happened. Why can’t we combat that? Mr. Baker replied if we had more investigators we would be able to do that. Ms. Fitzpatrick asked how will having four more deputies give you the right to go into a house to conduct a search?
The Public Safety and Corrections Committee ended up voting unanimously (Aaron I. Mullen, Chair Kelly H. Fitzpatrick, Vice Chair Steven P. Maio
Frederick G. Potter Joseph J. Hauryski) for the resolution to transfer and reclassify the four positions to the sheriff’s department, but also, to only fund two of the deputy positions for drug interdiction work, at this time. From here, the legislation will have to go to both the Administration Committee, and then the full legislature.