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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Top Stories > Health

Public safety officials respond to pandemic

Jul 23, 2020

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

Public safety officials have gone above and beyond the call of duty as the world continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This was one of the scenes at a parade honoring emergency responders in May.
MONTICELLO -- The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many facets of life, from public health to the economy to people's personal and professional lives.
But one thing that may not be in the spotlight is how the pandemic is affecting crime and public safety.
New York State Police Troop F Captain, Chris Zaba, appeared before the county legislature at the recent Public Safety Committee meeting at the Government Center and said calls for service are up 60 percent over this time last year (from 4,838 calls to 8,014).
“DWI's are up, drug arrests are up, overdoses are up,” Zaba said.
He said this is partially due to more troopers being on the road, as they recently hired 12 new recruits.
Others in the public safety field echoed Zaba's remarks.

Alex Rau, the EMS and 911 Coordinator for the county, said there has been a 12 percent increase in call volume at the 911 Center compared to this time last year.
Rau said EMS services in the county led the charge in battling the coronavirus pandemic.
“I cannot applaud enough the work that our EMS agencies and our healthcare workers did throughout this pandemic, the emergencies that they saw were true emergencies,” he said. “They were mentally, emotionally and physically affected by it.”
Rau said three EMS agencies had members that tested positive for COVID-19. He said the members isolated themselves and it prevented the spread of the virus throughout the whole agency, as was seen in other parts of the world.
“They endured some unprecedented challenges, and they never gave up,” he said.
Acting District Attorney Meagan Galligan said her office has seen an uptick over the course of the crisis in calls for domestic violence, mental health, drugs and alcohol.
She said courts are now starting to open, although virtual arraignments and conferences have been successful.
“With respect to COVID we did a lot of coordination among our emergency services as well as our local, state and county police forces,” Galligan said. “The DA's office was at the forefront of providing new technology to all of our police forces.”
There has been a rise in overdoses, mainly in the Monticello area (see our story in the recent issue of Health and Wellness).
Galligan said State Police have executed five narcotics related search warrants for heroin, cocaine and cocaine laced with fentanyl, which resulted in several arrests.
Due to the state's new bail reform measures, only one of those people who were arrested was held in jail on bail, the others have been released to pre-trial supervision.
Sullivan County Undersheriff Eric Chaboty said they have been “very busy” responding to calls involving the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that summer is in full swing they continue to be busy.
The move from the old county jail to the new one is now complete, and Chaboty said the move was successful.

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