St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office receives grant for domestic terrorism prevention
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office has received a significant grant for domestic terrorism prevention from the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
The grant was approved on Nov. 14 during the Board of Legislator’s Operations Committee, at which time Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe described what the $172,413 would be used for.According to Bigwarfe, a portion of the funds would be used for incorporating a consulting group called Squad 9.
“Squad 9 is used by many, many Sheriff’s Offices throughout the state for this grant and with great success. They have overall strategies to combat violence, they set up MOUs, they establish emergency management triage protocols, they organize training sessions like our active shooter training in our schools, they help with cases and case management,” Bigwarfe said.
“They really help us fulfill and manage this grant.”
Funds will also be used to assist the community in properly identifying the “warning signs of someone on the pathway to violence.”
While raising awareness is the fist focus, reporting will be the second, Bigwarfe said.
According to Bigwarfe, proper reporting of concerning behavior is essential to stopping potential violence.
Funds will also be available for training with local community groups and organizations.
Multiple churches and community groups have reached out to the Sheriff’s Office in recent months, Bigwarfe said.
Bigwarfe continued further, saying he and his department would be happy to have discussions with interested groups and parties to educate members how to identify and properly report incidents like domestic violence and how to identify potentially dangerous behavior.
During the meeting, Legislator Jim Reagen asked Bigwarfe if active shooter training would be considered for county employees.
According to Reagen, multiple county employees have requested such training, in many cases after working with “troubled” members of the public.
Bigwarfe said that would be very likely and he would encourage such training, noting the county complex was a “big complex with many buildings in the complex, each of which is unique.”
With such training, Bigwarfe told the committee that the Sheriff’s Office, State Police and Canton Police Department would all be involved.
According to Bigwarfe, a proactive approach to mitigate threats would be paramount to ensuring the safety of the local community.
“We know this is very important to the citizens of St. Lawrence County,” Bigwarfe said.
In other business for the Sheriff’s Office, legislators also approved $4,025 in federal aid from the state Criminal Alien Assistance Program from the Bureau of Justice Department. Those funds will be used for computer software and fees related to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility.
Legislators also approved a budget modification for overtime expenses totaling $125,000. Of that, $90,000 will be used for correctional officers and $35,000 being allocated for deputies.
According to the resolution, the county administrator maintains 25% of the overtime budgeted to “provide an opportunity for the needs of the Unit or Department to be reviewed by the Board of Legislators when staffing challenges present difficulties in the Department.”
In recent months, Bigwarfe highlighted many issues staffing the county jail and with hiring deputies, a trend that has been felt nationwide.
The board of legislators has also taken action in recent months to support hiring efforts, including approving three new correction officer positions and approving the filling of deputy positions as needed.
An additional budget modification was approved to cover multiple expenses that exceeded budget projections, including medical supplies at the county jail totaling $116,000, $40,000 in fuel costs and an additional $20,830 to cover county inmate housing, expenses for the Drug Task Force and social security expenses for jail employees.