Who I Am
I started my career in Public Safety more than 37 years ago when, fresh out of high school, I volunteered to drive ambulances with Greenport Rescue Squad in Hudson, NY, where I grew up. Within 2 years, I was a paramedic, working in Poughkeepsie, and running a Mobile Intensive Care Unit transporting critical patients between facilities. My view of law enforcement has always been influenced by that experience. I saw myself as a helper, a guardian, a teacher, a leader. My medical training caused me to look for medical problems first, when dealing with people in crisis. Low blood sugar in a diabetic can mimic drunkenness. Head injuries can make people violent. Substances can cause people to panic. The police are the first to respond when someone is in crisis, and so we are in the best position to help others. Yet, without empathy and a sense of compassion, we throw up barriers. Compassion is public safety.
What I believe
We are captive to the tyranny of low expectations. We expect our political leaders to try to destroy the other: Insults, innuendo, and insinuation are the currency of today’s news cycle. The politics of personal destruction makes governing difficult, if not impossible, for how do you reach across the aisle to collaborate when you’ve spent the better part of six months demeaning the other side? And so we’ve come to expect gridlock, inaction, and blame instead of finding ways to work together to benefit people. We deserve better. We deserve leaders who treat voters with respect: Leaders who keep the focus on ideas and issues and not distract us with trash-talk. Leaders who are more concerned with building people up, not tearing them down. Leaders who act with integrity. Leaders who use their office for public, not personal, gain. That is why I reached out to my opponent before I announced, to ensure we both commit to a fair fight about the issues, free of personal attacks. When we try to live our lives according to these first principles – integrity, decency, compassion, and fairness – we create the environment for others to flourish. Thriving societies are not beset by violent crime, poverty, or despair. They have leaders the people can trust. We can – and will – do better.
What I've done
While a Correction Officer assigned to the Visitation Desk, I developed a program that was almost 100% effective in preventing contraband from being smuggled in through visits. I also launched an informal discipline program that helped inmates learn better English skills, while at the same time reflecting upon why they broke a rule in the first place. I graduated from the Kingston Police Academy in 1999, where I was elected Class President and graduated with top academic honors. Since then, I've worked as a School Resource Officer, and as a Public Information Officer; I've developed any number of programs, and assisted in the development of others... Programs like the Crisis Intervention Training program, the Dutchess County Law Enforcement Critical Incident Stress Response Team, and J-Fire, a non-punitive and multidisciplinary approach to the problem of youth firesetting. As a trainer, I not only trained recruits, but I trained seasoned officers how to train and evaluate recruits. I've taught any number of courses from mental hygiene to juvenile aid and procedures, to bloodborne and airborne pathogens. Most recently, I was assigned to the Justice and Transistion Center Transition Team, where I helped develop the staffing analysis for the new facility, as well as policies and standing orders. It was my analysis that the County relied upon when deciding to choose the security vendor for the JTC, I discovered a potential savings of between $800K-1.2M just by looking at how the procurement for kitchen equipment was done, and I found an elegant and near-zero cost solution to an oversight that would have caused cell doors to smash into each other breaking the window panes, among other things. When I'm Sheriff, you can be sure I'll put these skills to the running of the entire Office.
What I'll do
I want to see a more compassionate approach to the problems of crime and disorder. People need to feel safe in their communities in order to thrive. Harsh, punitive approaches to correct criminal behavior rarely succeeds in nothing more than making a more hardened criminal. We create the conditions for recidivism and an increased risk of violence against the police when we make jail conditions inhumane. Inmates, despite their flaws, are human beings, entitld to dignity and respect. If we treat people like animals, then they will behave like animals. If we exploit an inmate's vulnerability for financial gain, then all we teach an inmate is that exploitation is the norm. The same goes for Correction Officers! These are decent, hard-working people in a dangerous environment, and yet they, too, are treated like an exploitable resource. I want to take the ridiculous overtime budget at the jail and transform it into more correction officers and a higher wage for all jail workers. I want to increase the pay of our Deputies who also suffer from short staffing. I want to increase the role of the police to help stop crime and disorder before it even starts, with a renewed focus on community orieted policing and giving deputies training on how to mediate and arbitrate neighbor disputes before they sprial out of control.
How I'll do it
I can't do anything without you, the community. I pledge to work closely with unions, community groups, the Comptroller and the County Executive to allocate resources to benefit our staff, those in our custody, and our neighborhoods. We can spend money on wasteful and destructive things like overtime, or we can spend that same money on paying our staff a decent wage and hiring enough staff that we aren't flushing away millions in unnecessary overtime.
When It's done
What will be next? Once the problems of waste and mismanagement are addressed at the Jail, I want to improve the personal and professional growth of our Correctional Staff. As it is, there are very few paths of opportunity for advancement in the jail. Gaining in rank and obtaining a coveted assignment are the only two places an Officer can go to improve themselves. I want to make a new title: Correction Resource Officer; similar to a School Resource Officer, a CRO would have their typical security duties, they would be trained as an educator, and they would receive training in mentorship. One of the most effective aspects of the SRO Program is the building of human relationships between police, parents, pupils, and educators. These relationships help reinforce community bonds and they encourage children to succeed - even when they are struggling. I want to find new ways for the Jail and Road Patrol staff to support each other. It is time we healed old divisions. I also want to explore new harm-reduction strategies when it comes to the problem of substance abuse. Our Deputies should also work to help those struggling with addiction, such as programs that help anyone who wants to get clean, and to use a trauma-informed approch when processing prisoners.
With more than 37 years total experience in all aspects of public safety - EMS, fire, critical infrastructure protection - and 24 in sworn law enforcement as both a Correction Officer and Deputy, I am uniquely qualified to lead the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office into the future.