The St. Lawrence County sheriff’s office has received $340,000 in grant funding from the state in a program that is tasked with enhancing border security in the county through the combined efforts of state, county and local law enforcement agencies.
Lawmakers authorized Legislature Chairman Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, to sign a fiscal year 2019 Operation Stonegarden Program Grant with the state Division of Homeland Security and modifying the 2020 budget for the sheriff’s office during Monday night’s county Operations Committee meeting.
The resolution will go before the full board of Legislators on June 1 for approval.
Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe told lawmakers Monday night the grant has been ongoing for several years, but this year was the largest amount received.
Coming from the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the funding has a contact from Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2020.
Of the $340,000 the sheriff’s office will receive $139,944 and will act as a pass-through agency for the three local entities; the Ogdensburg Police Department, which will receive $83,734; Norfolk Police Department, which will receive $22,081; and the Massena Police Department, which will receive $27,562.
The remaining funding of $66,681 is allocated to three state agencies, being the state police, state Park Police, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and which will complete their own reporting.
“The one thing different this year from last year, because the amounts are getting better and better, is that we put in for what they call management and administrator costs,” Sheriff Bigwarfe told lawmakers.
He said Undersheriff Sean P. O’Brien put in about 122 hours on the grant and Fiscal Officer Kelly Reed put in 212 hours.
“It’s a pretty intensive grant, a lot of report and pass through things that they all have to do, so the percentage that we will be getting that will go back into the county coffers is $17,000, just for the management and administrative costs,” the sheriff said. “It’s a nice bonus back in our budget that we wouldn’t have in the past.”
The grant funding pays for overtime and equipment like mobile radios, terminals for patrol vehicles, and license plate readers.
“So it really puts boots on the ground for our overtime costs and it supplements our equipment cost,” the sheriff said. “It’s a pretty extensive grant but it is something that sustains us.”
Legislator James E. Reagen, R-Ogdensburg, thanked the sheriff and his office for obtaining the funds which he said helped demonstrate that drug dealers are not welcome in the county.
“I want to thank the sheriff and his people for their work in obtaining this funding and helping communities like Ogdensburg to root out and send the message that St. Lawrence County is not a place where drug dealers are welcome or will be tolerated,” Mr. Reagen said. “I think you guys are doing a terrific job with the raids . . . it certainly illustrates the Stonegarden grant funding helps provide the resources to make that happen.”