Sheriff candidates differ on Corrections Division changes

By MIKE LaFAVE

(WKTV) - Democratic Oneida County Sheriff candidate, Rob Maciol laid out point two of his six-point plan for the Sheriff's Department if he's elected come November.

Point Two focuses on the Corrections Division. The New York Mills Mayor and Whitesboro Police Officer says the correctional facility needs to generate more revenue. Maciol says an audit he plans to call for his first day if elected could identify additional revenue streams.

Maciol's November 2nd opponent, Assemblyman David Townsend isn't against the idea, but says it needs a delicate approach. According to Townsend, renting out cells to places like Herkimer County, brings in millions in revenue. But Townsend also points out that by law the Oneida County jail must have enough cells to house its own inmates as well as room for U.S. Marshal's use.

Maciol's vision for the Corrections Division doesn't end with revenue. He also wants to cut down on overtime. Maciol says a few small changes could drastically cut down on those costs. One idea is employing civilian workers in some positions instead of sworn personnel.

Maciol once again points to his proposed day-one audit for cutting overtime. He says at any given time there is as many as 15-20 vacancies in the department. Those vacancies are what lead to overtime for deputies. Maciol says the audit will determine if they could actually save money by filling some of those vacant positions.

"Comparing vacancies to the overtime issue to working with the commission on corrections, to see if all these posts are manned appropriately, there may be some areas where we can cut back on that," Maciol said.

Republican Townsend says overtime costs in the Corrections Division are already on a decline, and if he's elected, they will continue on that path.

"Overtime has been reduced in the thousands under the current administration," Townsend said. "I plan to continue that trend. But you can't change the state's mandatory staffing levels."

Maciol's second of six points also addresses safety at the correctional facility. He says, if elected, he'll work tirelessly to improve safety conditions. Maciol suggests that if the corrections officers are safe, than Oneida County residents will be too.

"One of the main things we want to focus on is improving morale for the employees," Maciol said. "We think that by improving morale, we know by improving morale, it will give the employees a much better quality of life in the working atmosphere. And that in turn will obviously give the people of Oneida County a better quality of life."

Townsend believes that safety for corrections officers is on the rise.

"In recent years I've purchased the black creek system with a state grant to alert 'man down' situations," Townsend said. "They've recently added surveillance, taping 24/7. Deputies are now under constant supervision and surveillance."

In Maciol's first of six points, he suggested that civil deputies could perform random interviews with domestic violence victims. Townsend agreed with the interview idea, but suggested the department could save money by having dispatchers perform the interventions over the phone.

So far, the Assemblyman is not impressed with the Mayor's first two points.

"The Mayor doesn't understand the workings of the Sheriff's Office or the intricacies of the correctional facilities," Townsend said.

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