NY county approves firearms for probation officers

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators agreed to allow probation officers to carry firearms if they wish, but not without some dissent.

“This may be overkill,” Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said at Wednesday night’s meeting.


DANGER OF VIOLENCE

For the past two years, the legislature has been considering allowing the use of firearms for probation officers, studying the issue at length.

Probation Department Director David Marcoux said the number of people on probation that they have to supervise has grown significantly in recent years and that concern about people becoming violent during home visits has increased.

The policy that Marcoux and the legislature’s Public Safety Committee came up with allows officers to use firearms, if they want, on certain home visits.

The guns and ammunition would be purchased by the county, and the officers would be trained before they are issued.

DRUGS

Legislator Robert Hall (D-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the situation has gotten so dangerous in the county because of drugs that the need for firearms is real.

“I really do believe that this is a deterrent,” Hall said.

Legislator Peter Keenan (D-Area 5, Peru) agreed with Hall.

“These officers will be well trained, and I think we really need this program badly,” he said.

Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain), Chairman Sam Dyer (D-Area 3, Beekmantown), Patty Waldron (D-Area 6, Saranac), Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru), John Gallagher (D-Area 9, City of Plattsburgh) and Jonathan Beach (R-Area 2, Altona) also favored the policy allowing guns to be used.

“Our job is to hire good department heads and give them the tools to do the job right without micro-managing them,” Langley said, adding that Marcoux’s endorsement of the policy was enough for him.

“David (Marcoux) moved up the ranks in this department quickly because of the good head on his shoulders. I have the utmost faith in him. This is not an ego thing with him.”

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