The proliferation of illegal drugs upstate is “truly deplorable,” Delaware County Sheriff Thomas E. Mills said Monday, adding that the “problem will only grow worse if left unaddressed.”
In a statement sent to numerous media outlets, Mills said that several individuals had questioned the wisdom of publicizing drug-related arrests because they might put the community in a bad light.
But Mills said he couldn’t ignore the problem.
“Just closing my eyes is not something I do very well,” he said.
It has been 42 years since President Richard Nixon first talked about a “war on drugs,” and law-enforcement officials says it’s still a war not won.
“We do our part and combat it and make arrests and put it through the court system, and inevitably, someone picks up where the last one left off,” Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor said.
Last week was an especially busy week for the Delaware County Sheriffs Office, with two SUNY Delhi students arrested on marijuana charges and another accused of possessing cocaine with intent to sell. In addition, state police arrested a husband and wife on cocaine-sale charges in the town of Middletown.
Mills blamed much of the problem on outsiders.
“Unfortunately, our rural communities have been exploited by dealers from urban areas looking for a place to carry out their business,” he wrote. “These individuals have taken advantage of our limited law enforcement resources and set up shop, not just here, but everywhere in the upstate region.”
But other sheriffs aren’t so sure.
“Our office has had some high-profile cases, but I guarantee you that the demand is still there, and where there’s demand, somebody is going to take that person’s place,” Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. said.
“Some people try to blame it on the colleges … but that’s not the issue,” he added. “There’s a local issue here as well.”