Express News Staff
LAKE PLEASANT - "You've made your case," Town of Benson Supervisor Bob Edwards told District Attorney Marsha King Purdue after she laid out reasons why the county should have a full-time DA.
Purdue had the facts and figures to back her up, which she presented during a meeting of the county's Central Government Committee Tuesday, Sept. 24.
She also has the support of State Police Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigations Capt. Robert LaFountain, who came down from his headquarters in Ray Brook to endorse Purdue's request.
While violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) have fluctuated wildly in recent years from a high of five in 2008 to a low of one in 2012, property crimes (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) have risen dramatically, from 35 in 2008 to 77 in 2012.
The 2012 numbers show 30 burglary cases, 43 larceny cases and four stolen vehicle cases.
Hamilton County's 5,000 year-round residents are not the sole source of crime, Purdue said. Tourists swell the population to about 100,000 in the summers.
Purdue said she sold her private law practice in November 2012 because she has to be on-call 24/7. "I have to be dedicated to this job," she said.
DRUGS & TECHNOLOGY
So why have property crimes risen by more than 100 percent? Purdue and LaFountain both say it comes from increased drug use and the need to pay for those drugs.
According to LaFountain, some people who steal to support their drug habits come into the county because they think it will be easy pickings. "You don't want to be known as a county where you can go to do whatever you want to do," he said.
An increasing problem for law enforcement, LaFountain said, is technology. "Technology is changing everything. It's computers, the Internet and cell phones creating new opportunities for crime," he said.
Mention was made of the recent arrests of two young men, one for sending lewd photos to an underage girl and the other for receiving nude photos of underage girls. "Our once safe communities are no longer safe," LaFountain said.
WOULD SAVE MONEY
If the board decides to make the DA position full-time, Purdue said, all that is needed is a letter to the governor stating that.
Purdue is currently paid $85,000 a year. Although salaries for full-time DAs vary, most are paid $120,000 or more.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services provides yearly grants to help cover the costs of DAs, but the grant is available only if the DA is full-time.
Although Purdue didn't state how much of an increase she is looking for, she did say the grant would result in an increase of her salary while saving the county $5,000 from what it is currently paying her.
If any action is taken, it will be when the full Board of Supervisors meets tomorrow, Oct. 3.