MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson is again making the case for more funding in his office.
The DA appeared before the county’s public safety committee for the second time in as many months yesterday to discuss the proposed budget increase for his office in 2019.
During an interview with WRFA, Swanson said he is seeking an additional position on his staff to help assist with prosecuting a growing number of drug-related cases coming out of the county.
“The position I’m going to create is a narcotics prosecutor. Looking at the drug felonies over the last five years, in 2013 we had 178 drug felonies. In the next year we had 194, and then 183, and then 201. And in last year we had 258. That doesn’t count any marijuana. It counts the other illegal narcotics,” Swanson said.
Swanson said he also understands the fiduciary responsibility of county lawmakers in trying to control spending, but adds that something needs to be done to help his office address an increase in crime.
“I complete understand our county’s position financially. We are one of the poorest counties in the state and that’s not lost on me. I get that. But what comes along with a poor population, often times, is increased levels of drug use and crime rate. And the reason I say drug use is because obviously that problem is very real here. When it comes to drug misdemeanors other than marijuana, we had 451 drug possession cases in this county last year. That’s up 100 percent from 2013,” Swanson said.
In addition to the increase in drug-related crimes, the DA’s office is also seeing an increase in violent felonies from across the county, with last year seeing 212, an increase of 34 percent from the prior year.
Swanson says that ideally, he’d like to add a half dozen more attorneys to his staff so the caseload per attorney in his office would be on par with what other DA offices see across the state. But he said he knows that won’t happen so instead he is seeking the addition of a single, entry-level attorney.
The full county budget will be released by County Executive George Borrello this fall, with the legislature then reviewing and finalizing it by the end of October or November.
Our full interview with the Swanson will take place Thursday, Aug. 16 during our Community Matters public affairs program, which begins at 5 p.m. Also joining us that hour will be Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, who will give us an update on several cost-saving initiatives the city is pursuing.