Press-Republican

September 5, 2013

Franklin County sheriff’s deputy roles to be clarified

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Franklin County legislators want to know if the Sheriff’s Department has a road patrol or not.

The inquiry comes just two weeks after District 1 Legislator Guy “Tim” Smith (D-Fort Covington) was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill is scheduled to meet with the Public Safety Committee at 9:30 a.m. today to explain the job duties of his officers when it comes to making arrests.

OBLIGATION TO ACT

“I have eight deputies with police powers who patrol,” he said. “I’m not assigning anyone, and we have no radar units or a road patrol.

“The deputies serve civil summonses and check on registered sex offenders, but if they see a violation or a crime, they have an obligation to take action.”

He was told that legislators have fielded several calls from constituents about sheriff’s patrols since the news of Smith’s arrest went public.

But, he said, those calls should have been referred to his office for answers, just as questions and concerns involving the criminal-justice system are referred to District Attorney Derek Champagne.

“The legislators are in charge of my budget, and I treat them with respect, but I am not a department head, and I don’t answer to them,” the sheriff said.

“They don’t appoint me. I’m elected by Franklin County voters. That’s who I work for.”

DEPOSITION REQUESTED

Smith, 71, was pulled over on Robinson Circle just off Route 37 at the Westville/Malone town line about 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15.

Deputy Luke Cromp said in his arrest report that he saw the vehicle “being driven erratically.”

A field-sobriety test conducted with the assistance of the State Police allegedly determined Smith’s blood-alcohol level was between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, which led to the DWAI charge and a count of failure to stay within his own driving lane.

He reportedly registered a 0.055 percent on the roadside-sobriety test but did not exceed the 0.08 percent BAC threshold for drunken driving.

During an initial appearance in Malone Town Court last week, Smith pleaded not guilty.

His defense attorney, Kevin Nichols, challenged the blood-alcohol results, saying his client was not impaired.

Judge Michael Lamitie ordered a supporting deposition be filed by the Sheriff’s Department, and the case was adjourned until 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1.

Smith is running unopposed for re-election this fall and has served on the County Legislature since 2001, six of those years as chairman.

He has not responded to Press-Republican requests for comment on his arrest.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com