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By John Addyman


LYONS (Sep 8 10) – In a meeting of the Wayne County Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee this morning, officials outlined ways they are saving money in the criminal justice system, Sheriff Barry Virts showed where his deputies are writing tickets and explained his take on border patrol assistance, and plans were set in motion to share a radio tower on Sodus Bay for the new 911 system.

Trey Lockhart, director of the county’s Pre-Trial Release program, gave the committee an update on how his office saves the money by getting offenders awaiting trial into the monitoring program. He cited an example of a man sent to the Rochester Psychiatric Center, where the county pays more than $900 daily for the bed.

Once the accused was admitted into the pre-trial program with proper supervision and precautions, “we saved that money each day,” Lockhart said. “Without the existence of our program this would have been very expensive.” He added that the cost of sending someone from Wayne County to a psychiatric facility before trial “is just astonishing.”

Animals Seized

District Attorney Rick Healy reported that six horses seized in Galen recently for alleged neglect have been handed over to animal rescue personnel. Animals seized in such raids, he said, “go to Cracker Box Palace or the Humane Society, which sell them or give them away.”

He said his office had been very successful in prosecuting animal cruelty complaints.

“I’m happy to see you going after these cases,” said Committee Chair Robert Plant (Walworth).

Leandra’s Law

The county has concerns about Leadra’s Law, which sets special conditions for someone charged with DUI who has a child in the car, because it requires that an ignition interlock be installed in the vehicle of the person accused. That interlock prevents the person from starting or operating the car when drunk.

Officials are worried the county may bear the cost of buying and installing the interlocks for indigents accused under Leandra’s Law. Director of Probation Rick Stevens told the committee the number of such cases, so far, is low.

“I’m somewhat surprised the numbers have not been higher,” Stevens said. “We’re fielding a lot of calls from judges and court clerks.” He detailed one case in Lyons where an interlock was required, with the accused paying for it himself, and another in Walworth where the accused had a car that was compacted at a junkyard, so no interlock was needed.

Sheriff Patrols

Based on data provided to the committee by Sheriff Virts, the towns you’re most likely to get a traffic ticket in are Ontario, Sodus, Williamson, Macedon and Walworth – in that order. You’re least likely to see red lights behind you in Galen, where only six tickets have been issued this year. Some 347 drivers have been stopped in Ontario.

Virts discussed helping the U.S. Border Patrol in its work on the lake and at the shoreline, but said that’s where most county activity stops. “I refuse to put boots on the ground between Rt. 104 and the shoreline to enforce immigration law,” he told the committee.

In his August report to the Wayne County community, Virts discusses his meeting with Oswego Border Patrol Agent in Charge Pstachu Kohut, where the two talked about roles, responsibilities and authority. “We assured each other of our professional responsibility to officer safety and emergency backup response,” Virts writes, noting that Kohut’s job is “driven by federal law and policy.”

“My deputies,” he adds, “enforce the violations of local and state laws with the doctrine of probable cause no matter what race, creed, color or national origin of the violator. To be clear, ‘probable cause’ is the doctrine and principle deputies follow during investigations to believe a crime has been committed, not racial profiling.”

Undersheriff Rick House described two possible grants the county may not go accept. One, the Stone Garden Grant is $152,000 to be used for border protection. “We’re not going to accept it unless we can administer it,” said House. “Otherwise, it’s a nightmare on Elm Street.”

Virts said another grant, for Port Security, could purchase side-scan sonar, night-vision equipment and electronic translators, “but we don’t want to get involved in ‘seed money’ grants where we can’t continue to provide the service after the grant ends.” County Administrator Jim Marquette and Virts will continue to monitor the grant details.

Radio Towers

The major transformation to a new 911 system that will link all emergency personnel and police is showing substance, although 300-some monitors arrived with the wrong specifications and have to be shipped back.

911 Coordinator Jim Lee is looking for one more remote-receive radio tower in the northern part of the county. A grant to build a tower did not come through, and the cheapest alternative is to use a Seaway Authority tower in Sodus for the county equipment.

But Lee explained that the tower would need to be strengthened and stabilized to use county equipment, at a cost of $25,000, and the county would need some accommodation from the Seaway Authority. He will work on specifications and continue negotiations.

A thornier problem may have arisen in Savannah, where the county equipment was to go atop the new AT&T cell phone tower. Lee happened by, saw workmen in the vicinity, and after looking at the plans discovered the county equipment was no longer on the tower. He said AT&T sold the tower to SBA, which owns most of the cell towers in the county, and SBA subcontracted the work out to another company, which contracted for a fourth party to do the work. Somewhere along the line, the county’s equipment got lost.


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