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Local News

November 9, 2012

Sheriff: Cuts would jeopardize public safety

COOPERSTOWN — Citing statistics showing that crime reports are on the rise, Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. on Thursday urged the county Board of Representatives to shelve plans to cut two road patrol deputies from his agency.

“Any reduction in our police services will have unforeseen consequences for years to come,” Devlin told a panel of lawmakers seeking to make $1.9 million in budget cuts in order to come up with a balanced spending plan for 2013.

Devlin presented county lawmakers with a letter from State Police Maj. Kevin G. Molinari, commander of Troop C, informing them that his squad of troopers “cannot compensate for any reduction in the full-time public service provided to county residents by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department road patrols.”

“The New York State Police does not have the resources to adequately cover areas where local agency patrols are reduced,” Molinari wrote in a one-page letter dated Nov. 2.

Troop C is responsible for covering a total of seven counties — including Otsego, Delaware and Chenango. Molinari said his troopers “are often called upon to police special events and natural disasters in other parts of the state,” and 24 of them are currently on deployment to Long Island, where they are helping in communities battered by Hurricane Sandy.

Devlin, speaking directly to board members, said he simply cannot afford to lay off any of his personnel.

In the past five years, he said, drug investigations have climbed 25 percent, while there has been a 45 percent jump in calls from citizens seeking police service. In addition, he said, the inmate population at the Otsego County Correctional Facility has increased 35 percent in that same period, while domestic violence calls are up by 40 percent.

The sheriff said if he’s forced to shed any of his deputies — he has a total of 16, including investigators — it could slow response times to emergencies and calls for help from crime victims.

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