Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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December 19th, 2013

Public Safety Must Be a Priority

Everyone wants to live in a place where they feel safe and secure.

With the spotlight once again on Sullivan County thanks in part to the legalization of resort destinations, it is the obligation of our elected officials to ensure that we have adequate police protection.

Along with the construction of resort destinations – we will finally see the economic growth we have all been waiting for. In order for a new workforce and secondary homeowners to want to live here and purchase property we will need to make certain we are serious in combating crime.

Burglaries in Sullivan County are on a rise, and so are many other criminal activities.
Last week, two members of the sheriff’s patrol responded to a report of shots fired in Lake Huntington. After a brief standoff, Corporal Blake Starner and Deputy Rich Morgan apprehended the person who was shooting the firearm.

Unfortunately, members of our law enforcement community are continually putting their lives at risk more and more each day in protecting us from such crimes. The incident involving Starner and Morgan could have had a far different outcome.

Three times this past year deputies have confronted emotionally disturbed persons who were armed and possibly ready to take the life of one of our police officers.

Despite all of our budget hardships, we must make certain our patrol is properly manned. Starner and Morgan were the only members of the Sheriff’s Department on call to respond to the Lake Huntington incident and that is unacceptable.

I fought long and hard several years ago to make certain that our sheriff’s patrol was included in our charter, many counties do not have an active patrol in their Sheriff’s Department and rely solely on the New York State Police and other law enforcement agencies.

In Sullivan County we have many police forces.

The New York State Police and Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department are the police forces responsible for our protection countywide. Jamie Kaminski who heads the New York State Police in Sullivan County and Sheriff Michael Schiff are committed and dedicated to our public safety and they work extremely well together.

Staffing for the New York State Police is decided on the state level, while the Sheriff’s Department must rely on the legislature.

Sullivan County legislator Cora Edwards who heads the Public Safety Committee along with vice chairman Gene Benson have been committed to ensuring our public safety. They are well aware of the need to balance our budget and seeing to it that the Sheriff’s Department gets the finances it needs to protect us.

Although the legislature has increased the public safety budget from budgets past, the amounts allocated are never high enough. There needs to be a sincere working relationship and understanding from all fronts to map out our public safety future and to ensure that our patrol is properly staffed.

Edwards in her mission to combat crime has also been a strong advocate of Neighborhood Watch Programs. She is convinced that the eyes and ears of law abiding citizens goes a long way in helping law enforcement solve, report, and prevent crimes.

To get the message out on how we can assist law enforcement, Edwards has been holding “Stepping Up to Safety” forums. She has gathered every law enforcement agency for her initiative to assist in putting a halt to all the burglaries spreading across Sullivan County.

The responsibility to ensure that our police forces are properly staffed does not just lie with the legislature, there are other elected governments that also must recognize this need.

The Villages of Liberty and Monticello, as well as the Town of Fallsburg, have their own police forces that rely on funding from their respective boards.

In Liberty, Police Chief Scott Kinne, in Monticello, Police Chief Robert Mir, and in Fallsburg, Police Chief Simmie Williams are always pleading for staffing for their police departments.

Kinne, Williams, and Mir have all been highly praised in their efforts to fight crime. Fortunately, Liberty and Fallsburg boards understand the need for proper staffing, but such is not the case in Monticello.

Mayor Gordon Jenkins and the village board he controls have a long history being combative with the police department. Long gone are the days when there was a working relationship between the board and police department. In fact, Carmen Rue is literally the only trustee who continually fights for the police department.

District Attorney Jim Farrell also needs proper funding for his office to ensure that justice is served.

There can be no politics when it comes to our safety and protection. Everyone must sit down and work together. The outcome will be a win win for all of us.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post

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