September 13, 2013

In My Opinion: Carrying out lawful duties


---- — I read in amazement the Sept. 6 Press-Republican article entitled “Officials berate sheriff on staff’s duties.”

Let me preface this by saying this response is based solely on the information contained within the article.

The article explains the apparent disdain the Franklin County Legislature has of the Sheriff’s Department for conducting a portion of their lawful duties — this particularly when it concerned an elected official.

The sheriff is an elected position, the same as the County Legislature.

As this elected body of individuals, Franklin County legislators should certainly be aware, as they are empowered to enact laws, that the laws are presumably for the betterment and/or protection of their constituents.

When they enact laws, do they feel they themselves are exempt from them? Obviously, this would be ludicrous.

In the same context, Legislator Smith would be no more exempt from the laws of the state of New York than any of his constituents are. The process is the same for him as anyone else: On offense is purportedly committed, an investigation is conducted, a charge is filed, and a procedure ensues wherein ultimately a judge and/or jury decides the outcome.

Mr. Smith is but a small portion of the concern I have. What I am, and all citizens should be, enraged with is that it appears a legislative body quite apparently feels themselves above the law.

It is reported that one of the legislators felt the need to shout his displeasure to the sheriff in public session. For this individual to state, as in the article, that the sheriff has “run amok” of the County Legislature shows the true arrogance of politics. He reportedly chastised the sheriff for following New York State Corrections Law as he is required to.

It appears that it is difficult for some individuals to differentiate between the law that applies to all and what they simply feel like doing.

The sheriff is elected to do a specific, if not somewhat entailed, job. The legislature are elected to do a number of things, one of the most important is protection of the populace. That means physical as well as financial protection, i.e., taxes. 

It is not an easy task to balance both of these as well as a myriad of other issues confronting any legislator. But that is what they are elected to do.

You cannot please everyone, as any law-enforcement officer knows. Divergent thoughts and ideas are human nature. It is best to treat everyone evenly, equitably and fairly. This is the basis for ethics.

I applaud the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department for not running away from their responsibility to the public because of politics.

Unfortunately, as I have seen personally in the past, there will likely be political fallout to the Sheriff’s Department for being ethical.

For a public official or body to chastise another public official for doing their job, as required by law, is both ridiculous, possibly self-serving and a disservice to the public.

Jeffrey D. Cook is the retired longtime Ticonderoga police chief and a current member of the Ticonderoga Town Council.