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October 1, 2013

Reassigning deputies an option

MALONE — Franklin County can opt to reclassify sheriff’s deputies as correction officers and remove their ability to make arrests.

But Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill apparently has the constitutional authority to deputize them again and restore their policing credentials, as long as they are fully trained and he can pay them.

The issue surfaced a month after Legislator Guy “Tim” Smith (D-Fort Covington) was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy and charged with driving with ability impaired by alcohol and failure to remain in his own lane.

And it is just days before County Manager Thomas Leitz is to release the tentative 2014 county budget.

NO LAYOFFS PLANNED

Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said no job losses are planned in the budget.

“There are no talks of layoffs anywhere in Franklin County,” he said.

But clarification has been received from State Civil Service officials that Sheriff’s Department deputy sheriffs can be laid off and hired back as correction officers.

An email explaining that was sent to Mulverhill last week from County Personnel Director Paul Duffee, who is in charge of Civil Service matters locally.

“I don’t know if this has been put in as a policy or if this is just a matter of research,” the sheriff said.

Jones, who also received the email, said it “was only for research purposes” and was generated by Duffee following a tense discussion during the County Legislature’s Sept. 5 meeting.

BUDGET CONTROL

Duffee was sitting next to the sheriff when Mulverhill was accused of conducting a road patrol and targeting Smith for arrest. He was told to show proof that his deputy was assigned to do sex-offender checks that day, as he had said.

The sheriff denied Smith was targeted and said that, even though they typically serve civil summonses and conduct evictions, eight of his deputies are Police Academy trained and sworn to take action if they suspect a crime or violation is being committed.

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