St. Lawrence County Sheriff Goes On Attack Against Budget Cuts
St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells is going on the offensive against any job cuts to his department as the county legislature looks to balance next year's budget and avoid a 19 percent tax increase.
"We are not the problem and the people need us here," Wells said.
The sheriff may be locked in a fight to save his department from budget cuts that could impact the safety of county taxpayers.
He says now is not the time for legislators to be even thinking about cutting jobs in the criminal division, drug task force or road patrol.
"We are in the worst drug problem this county has ever seen," he said, "with the abuse of prescription drugs and opiates."
With a staff of nearly two dozen uniformed deputies and investigators on the county payroll, Wells says the department has taken its share of budget hits through the years
That's despite a continued increase in drugs and other crimes.
"These are also the most cost-effective officers in the whole county," he said. "They make the least amount of any police officer in this county."
County lawmakers have been non-committal about whether the sheriff's office is being targeted and how deep any cuts could go.
"Everything is on the table for cutting," said Legislator Dan Parker.
And that's what worries the sheriff and his deputies.
"While they're out there, in the back of their mind, they have to think, 'Gee, am I going to get laid off in the next couple months?'" Wells said.
"That's not fair, that's not safe and they need to step up and find another solution."
Legislators will review the sheriff's budget Tuesday night.
Thursday, May 23, 2013, Watertown, NY
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