MALONE - The arrest of Franklin County Legislator Guy Tim Smith, D-Fort Covington, on Aug. 16 by a county sheriffs deputy left county legislators questioning what services the sheriffs department provides.
Smith was pulled over around 6 p.m. by sheriffs Deputy Luke Cromp after Cromp was said by Undersheriff Patrick White to have observed Smith driving erratically and crossing over the center line while traveling north on state Route 37 around five miles outside of Malone. He was subsequently charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol.
Deputy Cromp had been conducting a routine check to ensure registered sex offenders were complying with residency reporting requirements, county Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said.
Through a field sobriety test, which was administered with the help of New York State Trooper James Gwinn, Smiths BAC was calculated at .05 percent. One can still be charged with DWAI if their BAC measures between .05 and .07, according to Tpr. Gwinn.
The case is still pending.
Sheriff Mulverhill met with county legislators on Thursday morning to discuss the matter.
While Legislator Paul Maroun, R-Tupper Lake, said he knows that the deputy sheriffs do have police capabilities and can make arrests, he said the county has never had a road patrol.
My point is, we dont have a recognized road patrol in this county, he said. Weve never had one.
Sheriff Mulverhill said Deputy Cromp was not part of a road patrol the day he arrested Smith.
Mr. Maroun said that if the sheriffs department did do road patrol, it should extend to both ends of the county.
If we had a road patrol in Tupper Lake, I could probably take two police officers off the tax rolls, according to Mr. Maroun, who is also the mayor of Tupper Lake. Its not fair to do it here and not do it there.
Mr. Maroun said he does not have a problem with sheriffs deputies making arrests if they observe a crime while theyre out performing their regular duties. He also said that he has not felt that the southern end of the county has received less service from the sheriffs department than the northern end.
Mr. Maroun said he wanted to know why the sheriffs deputy was out on the road at that time and said Sheriff Mulverhill had not proven Deputy Cromp was checking on sex offenders. However, Sheriff Mulverhill said that was Deputy Cromps focus for the day.
We have an obligation ... to check on sex offenders, he said.
The sheriffs department provides a variety of services, which are not limited to working at the county jail or checking on sex offenders. The department also transports inmates to court proceedings and works with the Operation SAFE CHILD, which helps to provide identification for children. Particularly in the southern part of the county, they work during the Tupper Lake Woodsmens Days, along with other services.
Sheriff Mulverhill noted that there are eight sheriffs deputies with police power in the county.
When Smith appeared in Malone Town Court for a hearing on Aug. 26 and entered a not guilty plea, his attorney, Kevin Nichols, said he had not known of a member of the sheriffs department being involved in this type of case before.
This is the only time Ive known him in 20 years for the deputy sheriff to arrest someone based on vehicle and traffic law, he said.
Considering that there isnt a road patrol, Mr. Maroun said that when the county devises its 2014 budget he plans to take a closer look at the sheriffs department and how many deputies it needs.