2018-03-13 / Police

Delaware County Sheriff Rebuffs Governor’s Recreational Marijuana, Bail Reform Efforts

By Lillian Browne

Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond, along with other county sheriffs and representatives, attended the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Lobby Day in Albany on March 6. 
Contributed Photo Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond, along with other county sheriffs and representatives, attended the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Lobby Day in Albany on March 6. Contributed Photo DELHI - Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond was in Albany on March 6 to lobby, alongside approximately 20 of his statewide colleagues or their representatives, for changes in the state’s proposed budget.

DuMond met with Assemblyman David Weprin, Chairman of the Assembly Corrections Committee; Public Safety Secretary Richard White; Senate Election Committee Chairman Fred Akshar; Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and others to advocate on behalf of the New York State Sheriff’s Association (NYSSA) on different issues and topics, including recreational marijuana, bail reform, mental health treatment assistance, civil asset forfeiture laws, state-ready inmate transportation reimbursements and more.

DuMond asked legislators to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, because, he said, it has been “proven by experts” to be a “gateway drug.”

NYSSA, he said, lobbied against legalization based upon the “implosion” in Colorado communities, where sales tax revenues, he said, are being spent on law enforcement efforts. As an example, DuMond said, there has been a massive increase in drug-induced traffic fatalities in places where recreational marijuana has become legal. “We don’t feel like its a good idea,” DuMond said. Governor Cuomo claims to be a champion of opiate reform, Du- Mond said, speaking on behalf of NYSSA, yet he is encouraging the legalization of another mind-altering substance.

Proposed bail reform measures that would allow the custodial release of those accused of a non-violent felony are also being staunchly opposed by Du- Mond and his colleagues. “We believe existing bail guidelines are sufficient,” DuMond said. “Bail guidelines are not abused in upstate New York like they are in New York City. We are being asked to pay the price for downstate mistakes.”

There is a “major” opiate problem in Delaware County, DuMond said, and arrests for those types of crimes are not considered violent offenses. Police invest months in investigating those crimes, and he is fearful, he said, that if those accused of those crimes are let go without bail, that they will either return to illicit or criminal activity or flee. If that happens, DuMond said, law enforcement officers will spend a lot of time “chasing” people with warrants.

DuMond also called for resources and dollars to be allocated to mental health needs of inmates. NYSSA suggests the state facilitate the opening of a hospital or take other action to get prisoners suffering from mental health issues the help they need.

The Governor’s proposed budget also calls for the elimination of personnel reimbursement costs for the transportation of county inmates to state prisons, which NYSSA also opposes. Should that measure take effect, DuMond said, it would, in effect, result in another unfunded state mandate.

DuMond also personally advocated for the funding of school resource officers. Downstate schools, DuMond said, already have armed police officers in schools and residents there, he said, are objecting to the presence of additional armed officers. However, DuMond said, that is not the case in areas like Delaware County, where there is one assigned school resource officer who divides their time between the BOCES Masonville campus and the Sidney School District.

“To make a true difference, every school building should have a professional trained police officer present. Not as a mean of militarization; but to be an integral part of the school community to build relationships with students and staff as a preventative measure, to prevent acts of violence and school shootings from happening,” Du- Mond said. DuMond also opposed the Governor’s effort to reform civil asset forfeiture laws under which seized assets of a convict are sold or used to benefit law enforcement. “We believe it is important to supplement the sheriff’s drug enforcement budget with those assets,” Du- Mond said. The money is used to purchase needed equipment and provide training for drug enforcement officers and operations. The Governor, DuMond said, wants drug dealers to get their money back - or possibly turn it over to the state rather than allow the local law enforcement agency to retain it. “We believe the current standard is sufficient,” DuMond said.

Upstate law enforcement agencies should not have to continue paying for systematic downstate problems, he said.

DuMond deemed the annual lobby-day a success, with at least one-third of his counterparts representing their home counties. -

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