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Board Discusses Sheriff's Personnel and Heroin

Written By Editor on 12/16/16 | 12/16/16

At the Board of Supervisors meeting today, Supervisor Richard Lape of Richmondville of the Law Enforcement Committee introduced Sheriff Desmond. The Sheriff spoke regarding backfill hirings. One member of the department is leaving for a higher paying job. There is a training session in January-- the Sheriff asked for permission to replace that position and fit in someone for the upcoming training. All of this would be covered by existing funds in the budget, after being asked about it by Supervisor Bill Federice. The Sheriff said that other employees have left for other jobs recently.

Supervisor Simkins asked if people were leaving and that the Sheriff’s Department was becoming a “training ground” for individuals to leave for better paying jobs. Seward Supervisor and former Sheriff John Bates said that this has been a concern for years. He asked Desmond if there was a lost of indivudals that could be chosen from quickly. Sheriff Desmond said that there will be interviews and other interested individals.

He added that there is a problem hiring part time individuals, including having individuals paying to go through training out of their own pocket. He said that there have been several occassions of qualified individuals being unable to come over due to civil service rules. Supervisor Shawn Smith of Blenheim said that in some cases individuals who have training paid by the County can be asked to repay a portion of the cost if they left soon after being hired. Deputy Zach Reinhart stated that there is a similar provision in the deputies’ contracts, “when we sign up for the job we understand that that’s there,” he said. Reinhart added that the other deputies supported a stronger policy to avoid having others leave for better-paying jobs.

Supervisor Bradt said that the Sheriff’s Department has “plenty of money,” including funding for two new vehicles.

Sheriff Desmond told the board that there was another heroin overdose death yesterday. “I don’t think there’s enough money or that you will give us enough money” to fully combat the crisis. Many new addicts are beginning to snort heroin, he said.

Supervisor Bradt asked about the progress of hiring an undercover officer. Sheriff Desmond said that he hoped to get an officer from another county. He added that he hoped to work with Assemblyman Lopez to create a new task force to share services. “Unfortunately police are attacked very violently several times a week across the country,” he said. Money was only a portion of the issue. Staffing is an important part of the fight against opioids. He described it as a “crisis,” citing six heroin deaths in six months. “We’ve got to do something,” he said.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez will be holding a press conference in Albany regarding the crisis in the near future. Supervisor Tague is assisting in the project. Sheriff Desmond said that there is much more to be done, as well. Tague said that Lopez is hoping to get attention from the Governor’s office for assistance and invited all members of the board to attend the conference and to send a joint letter asking for more help. Sheriff Desmond requested that several deputies come to the event. “It’s tough on everybody,” he said, “it’s tough on law enforcement.”
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