In an effort to maximize the return on fines paid by drunken drivers, Assistant County Manager Matt Landers is proposing using some of that money to fund the addition of a deputy to the Sheriff's Office with the position being dedicated solely to DWI enforcement.
If a dedicated DWI deputy could make just one more DWI arrest per week over the course of a year above the current arrest rate, the position would be fund itself in future years, Landers said.
Landers is proposing using $60,000 from STOP-DWI cash reserves to fund the $100,000 position for the first year.
The County Legislature must consider whether to budget the balance of the $40,000 cost to get the new position started. The additional $40,000 will cover the cost of fringe benefits for the new deputy.
The STOP-DWI plan was recommended for approval by the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, but not without some concerns and skepticism raised.
Legislators asked whether other deputies not assigned to the STOP-DWI detail might be less inclined to enforce DWI, thinking, "That's the other guy's job," but Landers expressed confidence that the other deputies' professionalism would prevent that mindset.
Legislator Ray Cianfrini, an attorney, raised concerns that a dedicated DWI patrolman might feel the pressure to make quota and engage in practices courts have determined to constitute entrapment, but Landers said he believes there's enough DWI activity that isn't being thwarted now to keep a full-time DWI deputy busy.
In fact, Landers thinks a dedicated patrol might actually arrest more than just one extra drunken driver per week, but his budget numbers remain conservative at one per week.
After the meeting, Landers said DWI arrests have dropped off the past couple of years, either because more deputy hours are being tied up with prisoner transports, or because staffing has been constrained both in the Sheriff's Office and Batavia PD.
"I don't necessarily believe it was due to fewer drunks on the road," Landers said. "I think they're out there. I'm trying to give the resources to the local law enforcement agencies to go after the drunks who are out there."
The Sheriff's Office has typically received STOP-DWI funds to provide overtime pay to deputies to engage in extra anti-DWI enforcement patrols. Under the new plan, that OT amount will be cut from $30,000 to $25,000, so there will still be dedicated part-time patrols in addition to the full-time, dedicated DWI deputy.
Batavia PD and Le Roy PD would receive their usual amount of STOP-DWI funding for overtime pay for dedicated DWI patrols.
"I figure this is a better way to spend STOP-DWI money and a better way and more efficient way to get more drunks off the road," Landers said.