“This difficult decision was not made overnight”
From Steuben County Chairman Scott Van Etten
Today, Sheriff Allard released a public statement, which requires a response for the benefit of Steuben County taxpayers. In New York State, Counties provide liability insurance coverage to a Sheriff through the specific passage of a local law. The Steuben County Legislature passed such a local law in 2017. Recently and unfortunately, both actions and inaction of the Sheriff has necessitated this to be reevaluated. Ultimately, after careful review, the Legislature voted to rescind this defense and liability coverage last week.
The County must ensure that the laws of New York State that protect our employees from harassment and discrimination are enforced across all departments, including the Sheriff’s Office. To ignore or do otherwise would be a disservice to our staff and open the County taxpayers to tremendous liability. Any subsequent lawsuit would be a cost paid by our residents.
Since at least the end of June, the Sheriff has been aware of the serious concerns of the County, and instead of taking steps to find compliance with State law, the County has been met with half-truths, deflection, and legal threats. To claim no explanation has been given is patently false and is a public statement the Sheriff can now not take back.
This difficult decision was not made overnight – it has been actively discussed since the beginning of July, and the County has held out hope for it to be resolved. It is unfortunate that the Sheriff places us in this position of both responding to his public statement and answering his civil litigation.
These resolutions have no financial or operational impact upon the men and women in uniform who faithfully serve our County. The resolutions impact Sheriff Allard alone. If critical workplace laws, regulations, and practices aren’t adhered to within his Office, it’s the Sheriff himself that bears the liability, not the taxpayers of Steuben County.
SCOTT J. VAN ETTEN
STEUBEN COUNTY LEGISLATURE