The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

September 26, 2013

Sheriff's office does much with little

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The Daily Star

---- — I am writing in response to Mr. Stavola’s letter to the editor. While we support his right to express his opinion, his facts are incorrect.

The correct salary figures for an Otsego County deputy sheriff are a starting salary of $32,209 to $42,142 after 10 years of service, not the $74,000 to $112,000 as he stated. I might further add that the labor contract for the deputy sheriffs and the correctional officers expired in 2009, and both unions have been working without a contract.

Otsego County deputy sheriffs and correctional officers are collectively some of the lowest-paid sheriff’s office personnel in the state. The Sheriff’s Office operating budget is also one of the lowest in the state.

We have a limited number of deputies patrolling the county, which has 1,100 square miles, 62,000 residents and hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting annually. It is necessary for deputies to be called in off-duty to respond to emergency calls.

Deputies and troopers routinely respond to two-officer response calls by themselves. Backup can be 15 to 30 minutes away or longer. Our citizens wait 15 to 20 minutes or longer for an officer to arrive after placing an emergency call.

We have had several incidents where an off-duty deputy was the first-arriving officer on an emergency scene or the first-arriving backup officer.

Our patrol vehicles are equipped with computers and other technologies that enable them to be a mobile office. Deputies start their shifts in the field; they do not go to the sheriff’s office prior to their shift.

We pride ourselves with providing our residents with the best possible services with the limited numbers of officers and financial support that is provided to our office.

Jack Wilkens

Westford

Wilkens is president of the Otsego County Deputy Sheriff Police Benevolent Association.