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Sheriff’s candidate O’Neill outlines vision for Jefferson County Department

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Colleen M. O’Neill, one of the Democratic candidates for Jefferson County Sheriff, said she would leverage her experience as a NY state trooper to bring accountability and leadership to the office.

Ms. O’Neill, a retired state police senior investigator, wrote the statement ahead of the 30th anniversary of her graduation from the State Police Academy in Albany on Aug. 10.

She wrote that she would bring the management experience she gained as an instructor at the state police academy, a Sergeant on road patrol and a supervisor at the Bureau of Criminal Investigations Unity at the state police barracks in Alexandria Bay to an office that has lost some of its lustre in the wake of several scandals.

“The public has lost confidence in the leadership of Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office,” Ms. O’Neill wrote. “The agency’s knowledgeable, experienced supervisors and managers deserve a leader who supports them and provides them with direction which allows them to carry out their duties and responsibilities. They deserve a leader who will bring integrity to the job, not allowing ethics to be compromised.”

Ms. O’Neill said she would establish an internal affairs mandatory reporting system that would require every personnel complaint to be heard and investigated fully while protecting members of the agency from false accusations.

Ms. O’Neill wrote about the many other law enforcement agencies working in the county, including local, state, military, federal and international agencies. She wrote she understood the necessity for cooperation between these agencies and the obstacles to cooperation.

“I have the experience to build and enhance these relationships,” Ms. O’Neill wrote. “Through collaboration, will we be able to successfully keep our neighborhoods safe, protect our children at school and fight a heroin epidemic — among other challenges. My goal is to build the most effective law enforcement team in New York State.”

Ms. O’Neill said she would examine overcrowding at the jail at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building from a fresh perspective, examining the situation in collaboration with corrections officers, the District Attorney’s office, court personnel, judges and service agency program managers.

“We must examine the entire system - from who is being detained to what programs are in place to reduce the recidivism rate. I am confident that this review will lead to important reforms that reduce the daily jail population, and help all of the agencies in our criminal justice system work more closely together,” Ms. O’Neill wrote.

Ms. O’Neill is running against fellow Democrat Paul W. Trudeau, undersheriff of Jefferson County. The winner of the September primary will face Republican John R. Bocciolatt, a Watertown native and retired detective sergeant with the Portland, Ore. Police Bureau.

On Monday, Ms. O’Neill announced she has been endorsed by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 2 union.

— DPF

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