Some Allegany County police chiefs say that the county has missed out on thousands of dollars over the past 20 years and more in fighting driving while intoxicated, as they advocate for a change in current administration of a prevention program.
Chief Paul Griffith of the Alfred Police Department and Chief Dustin Burch of the Cuba Police Department told the Board of Legislators Public Safety Committee yesterday that other counties and municipalities are receiving state and federal funds for cars, equipment, training and road patrols while Allegany County has never applied for such benefits.
Chief Timothy O’Grady of the Wellsville N.Y. Police Department also was listed on the agenda but wasn’t present for the discussion. County Legislator James Rumfelt, who sits on the county Public Safety Committee, also is chief of the Andover Police Department.
The comments followed a presentation to the committee by County Youth Bureau Director Brian Perkins, who also serves as STOP-DWI coordinator.
Perkins presented a $70,000 budget summary for 2023 which has been forwarded to the state for funding from DWI fines money.
He said the some $50,000 expected to be received in the current year is half that of prior periods due to reductions in state fines money and individuals being issued tickets and not appearing in court.
The coordinator said that all of the fines money will be going to local law enforcement agencies next year, with the county, which had been reimbursed for part of his salary and other administrative costs, now paying for those expenses.
Griffith said the chiefs were at yesterday’s meeting due to a discussion which started at a training in Alfred about a month ago when they were told by an instructor that although fines money had decreased there is other state and federal funds which can be received to aid in DWI enforcement.
He gave examples of the need for additional patrol time and policing at special events. Burch said his department had three accidents involving DWIs in the past three days.
Griffith told legislators that he believes program administration needs to be transferred to law enforcement, as it is in other counties, whereby those in charge of the program actually are involved in DWI enforcement.
Funding for law enforcement operations, the chief said, seems to be “put aside” when the task isn’t the primary function of a department.
He said there has been a lack of communication and transparency by the county and departments which receive some of the fines money have been left out of the process. Burch said he has had problems with having telephone calls returned. Rumfelt said the issue of not applying for additional monies from other sources has been going on for more than 20 years.
The presentation by the police chiefs is available at https://bit.ly/3ejTynD, starting at approximately 15:30 minutes, preceded by Perkin’s initial budget requests at approximately 0:30 minutes.
No immediate action resulted from the requests.