MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson recently sent a letter to the Public Safety Committee, as well as the entire Chautauqua County Legislature, detailing the reasons of his request to increase his office’s 2019 budget.
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello told media following Wednesday’s office that Swanson’s request for an approximate $65,000 budget increase was included in Borrello’s overall tentative budget for 2019.
Borrello said, and Swanson confirmed in a letter included below, that the money is intended to fund a new prosecutor who will specialize primarily in narcotics cases.
“I know, as a member of the Legislature last year, we had indeed appropriated that money, and the District Attorney (Swanson) chose to use that elsewhere,” Borrello said. “We can not dictate how that money is spend, we can only give recommendations when it comes to the District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Offices.”
“I think it’s critically important to have that special narcotics prosecutor, that’s why I put it into the tentative budget.”
Here is the letter obtained by WNYNewsNow from Swanson in its entirety:
Chairman and Committee Members,
I write to you in response to your request for documentation regarding the goal behind my funding increase request in my 2019 budget proposal. As I stated in my July and August appearances before your committee, I intend to apply the increase in funding to hire a new attorney. I have asked for funding that would pay for the addition of an entry level attorney.
While I would prefer to hire an experienced prosecuting attorney, in Chautauqua County they are not common. For all of the employment postings I have made in my tenure, all of the attorneys who responded have had no prosecution experience. That being the case, I have asked for the amount necessary to hire a new prosecutor and restructure the office to create a Narcotics Prosecutor position.
The goal of this position will be to more effectively and efficiently prosecute drug dealers. The Narcotics Prosecutor will only handle narcotics cases. The duties and obligations of the new Narcotics Prosecutor will be to assist and advise narcotics investigations and to prosecute narcotics cases that originate from Chautauqua County’s two Drug Task Forces. They will attend national trainings for Narcotics Prosecutions. They will be focused on Narcotics cases. Best practice nationwide suggests prosecutors should have advanced skill in their area of prosecution. There is a need to bring specialized prosecutors to Chautauqua County. Unfortunately, high caseloads and low staff numbers prevent this from occurring.
By all metrics, Chautauqua County needs more prosecutors. By adding one prosecutor, we take a step in the right direction. The addition of one new attorney will take our total to 11. While 14 or 15 prosecutors are appropriate for our population and caseload, any increase in staff numbers should make a difference in the efficiency and effectiveness in our ability to prosecute.
Patrick E. Swanson District Attorney Chautauqua County