Jefferson County District Attorney fires back after Olney accuses her of not doing her job

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:17 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A Watertown lawmaker is accusing Jefferson County’s district attorney of not doing her job. The D.A. is firing back.

Watertown City Council Member Cliff Olney says when it comes to cases involving drugs and damaged property, the district attorney isn’t prosecuting enough.

“When I look at what is being done and what’s not being done and what is being elevated and what should be looked at, as this city should look at these things, I think we may need to fill a position if it’s possible to do that,” Olney said during Monday night’s city council meeting.

He floated the idea that Watertown needs its own city district attorney because he feels county D.A. Kristyna Mills isn’t prosecuting all the cases she should.

“I don’t see drug usage or drug sales as being really high up on our county’s district attorney’s priority list,” said Olney.

The statement didn’t go over well with Mills, who says those accusations just aren’t true.

“If you look at those people going to jail on drug cases, on felony drug cases, we send 76 percent to jail; 59 percent for all of the other counties outside New York City. So we are way above what other counties are doing,” said Mills.

She says the county’s conviction rate in drug cases is even higher - 92 percent in 2021.

Those are convictions, but are police arresting?

At Monday’s meeting, Olney claimed Watertown police officers tell him they are told not to arrest people in certain situations because they won’t be prosecuted.

The city police department had no comment.

“I don’t think that’s true. i don’t think that’s happening. If it’s happening, I am unaware of it. But I don’t make arrests; that is on the police departments but we prosecute everything that comes into this office,” said Mills.

Can the city even hire its own district attorney?

City Attorney Robert Slye says under New York County Law, only counties can have a D.A., not a city.