MAYVILLE – With the latest round of budget negotiations between Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and county department heads, Borrello told WNYNewsNow he fully supports adding a special narcotics prosecutor to Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson’s staff.
“We’re talking about it right now. We’re negotiating it and ultimately it will be up to the legislature, but here’s my feeling, part of the quality of life in Chautauqua County is having a legal system we can have confidence in and I want to give the District Attorney and the Public Defender every tool that we can, within reason obviously, for them to be successful,” Borrello said.
“We want people to feel safe. We want to make sure that justice is being served in an efficient manner as quickly as possible and increasing his budget in order to be able to do things like add a special narcotics prosecutor, which was something we wanted last year when I was still a county legislator, is now part of the conversation again. I’m hopeful we can find a way to budget for that.”
Swanson said he hopes to receive the same support from the County Legislature as he has from Borrello.
“I am greatly appreciative of the support I am getting from the County Executive. My hope is that the Legislature will approve my request to increase funding so that I am able to add a much needed attorney to my staff,” Swanson said. “Looking at statewide standards and office numbers, it is abundantly clear that the District Attorney’s office here in Chautauqua County is in great need of additional staff. That means funding from the county. Additions to staffing levels in my office are long overdue. The crime numbers we are seeing are historically significant. They cannot be ignored. I’m happy the County Executive joins me in my request.”
Chautauqua County, which has a population of 129,000, currently has 10 Assistant District Attorneys. The DA’s office is currently operating on a budget of $1,745,061. According to statistics WNYNewsNow recently obtained, there were a record-high 1,144 felony cases on the prosecutor’s 2017 work load. In 2016, that number was 1,017.
Drug felonies increased from 201 to 258 from 2016 to 2017, an increase of more than 28%. The 258 drug felonies are also a record-high, according to Swanson.
Ontario County (population of 110,000), meanwhile, operated in 2017 with more than $2.3 million in their District Attorney budget. Ontario County had 12 ADA’s last year, with just more than half of the number of felony cases (589).
Borrello also pointed out that the case loads for the District Attorney and Public Defender are increasing, as are new regulations that add to the heavy burdens those staffs already face.
“The public defender’s office, we have a new requirement now to have an attorney present at every arraignment which is something new so that’s increased the burden on the Public Defender’s office,” he said.
Borrello promised to do what he can to support law enforcement needs in the county.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to give every member of law enforcement, including the District Attorney and Public Defender offices, the tools they need to be successful and to carry out justice as efficiently as they can because that’s what the people want and that’s part of our quality of life,” he said. “I’m in favor of doing what we can, within reason, to support the District Attorney’s office any way we can.”
NOTE: This article is a part of a series involving WNYNewsNow’s interview with County Executive George Borrello.