St. Lawrence County to receive $417,930 from Criminal Justice Reform Grant
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON -- St. Lawrence County is set to receive $417,930 from the Criminal Justice Reform Grant, a fund that will allow the county to subsidize the cost of two assistant district attorney positions.
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua announced the funding during the county legislature's operations committee meeting, telling legislators he has allocated $248,228 for the two assistant district attorneys, which will cover salaries and benefits for the two positions for a year.Pasqua said $4,212 will be used to cover the cost of the PCMS Program Discovery Storage fees for his department and $73,128 will be used to expedite Grand Jury transcripts to comply with Criminal Procedure law.
Pasqua noted that the state has recently invested an additional $40 million in the grant program, allowing the county to receive a much larger allocation than in previous years.
That allocation will allow for the hiring of multiple personnel and to upgrade or purchase software and equipment that will allow the district attorney's office to function better, he said.
According to Pasqua, state officials said the additional funds allocated for the grant program will be maintained for at least the next five years.
As part of the fund, Pasqua said $92,362 will come from the Criminal Justice Reform Grant to fund a police office position for the Ogdensburg police department for one year.
Pasqua said he made it clear to city officials and the police department that the funds are to be utilized to hire an additional officer and cannot be used to reimburse the city for existing officers.
According to Pasqua, Ogdensburg Police are down to 16 road officers, a sharp decline from the previous 28 that were on the road.
"It may seem like a drop in the bucket but it's much needed help and any help the city can get with everything that is going on is well worth it," he said.
Though the position is funded by a grant the county will again receive funding through next year, Pasqua said the county is under no obligation to fund the position again next year.
"I hope whatever changes come in January they will be able to increase numbers on their own," Pasqua said.
Pasqua noted that the Ogdensburg police department has had more arraignments in recent years than any other municipal police department throughout the county.
"This will help them, help us and will take the burden off the state police and Sheriff's Department," he said.
Chairman David Forsythe also spoke to the funding, saying it will be a big boost for a department that is struggling to keep up with a sharp increase in complaints.
"This will go a long way to help," he said.
Forsythe also spoke to funds the department will receive from an additional grant, which will allow the department to hire an additional two officers.
"We know they are short staffed and hopefully they will have two more coming on board soon," he said.
Legislator Jim Reagen said the move to hire additional officers with the grant is a great move by the county, saying that the funds to hire officers will not affect county revenue.
"I want to commend you (Pasqua) for your leadership and for seeing the needs across the county," he said.
Reagen said the county is aware of the issues plaguing the city, saying law enforcement officers there need "all of the help they can get."