FORT EDWARD -- The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was given greater control over drug forfeiture money on Friday, a move that local police hope will help drug-related investigations.

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve Sheriff Jim Murphy’s proposed forfeiture money policy.

The board also approved transferring $97,000 of cash collected from drug busts from the county’s general operating budget to the Sheriff’s Office budget.

Murphy said after the meeting that newfound autonomy allows police access to funds needed for an investigation or supply purchases.

“If we have an opportunity to buy surplus ammo at a low cost, this allows us to do it immediately,” Murphy said. “If we waited a couple months, then the price may have changed.”

Friday marks the first time Washington County’s Sheriff Office will have relative control over forfeiture money, which can come to more than $100,000 a year.

The new policy allows the sheriff, with the approval of the country Treasurer’s Office, to spend up to $50,000 without Board of Supervisors oversight.

In the past, the sheriff had to request the release of funding from the county board, and requests could take months to weave through the legislative process.

Warren County Sheriff Bud York has complete control over the use of drug forfeiture money.

The Washington County policy gives Murphy less control than York. Each use of the money will require the signature of country Treasurer Al Nolette. Expenditures will be reported to county supervisors after the fact.

But some uses of the cash won’t be made specific in the public reports, Nolette said earlier this week.

Murphy said some of the cash would be used to buy drugs during stings. The money could also be used to buy nondescript vehicles for drug investigations.

“If we use it for cash for drug buys, we certainly don’t want to publicize that,” Murphy said.

The cash could also be used to cover overtime costs for investigators working on drug investigations, officials said.

Some members of the county board’s Finance Committee earlier this week questioned the loss of board oversight.

Washington County officials have repeatedly referenced the $2 million in gold bars discovered recently in Warren County, wondering what Washington County’s cut, as a member of the drug task force, is going to be.

(13) comments

sbrhwkp3

Why not use it to pay for those vehicles you say you need, rather than levying those costs on the taxpayer?

the woo woo kid

Speaking of drug money, wonder what happened to that 2 million dollars worth of gold bars found in a drug defendant's possession ?

MayorOfLoserville

@sbrhwkp3 and woo woo: You are citing Warren County issues, and this article concerns Washington County.

jade

sbrhwkp3, that's Warren County, not Washington County, begging for new vehicles

Muz i Belka
Muz i Belka

[quote]the woo woo kid said: "Speaking of drug money, wonder what happened to that 2 million dollars worth of gold bars found in a drug defendant's possession ?"[/quote]

Woo Woo, you're a frequent commenter/reader, I'm surprised you missed last Wednesday's big "drug bust story de jour" (at least one every day, if not two or three) about the confiscated gold bars, and a story two days later about a "lack of patrol car 'crisis'".

Short answer: the gold bars are going to solve the "need new patrol car crisis" in Warren County, now Washington.

"Warren County supervisors plan to use some of the money to buy patrol cars for the Sheriff’s Office. Under federal law, drug forfeiture money has to be used to fund law enforcement personnel, equipment or services that target drug activity."

"$2 million in gold bars unearthed in Queensbury as part of drug case" (4/11/12, 29 comments)
http://bit.ly/I9Sb18

and

"Lack of available sheriff's cars called a 'crisis'" (4/13/12)
http://bit.ly/JmKPdL

Urclueless

("sbrhwkp3 said - Why not use it to pay for those vehicles you say you need, rather than levying those costs on the taxpayer")-you are thinking of the Warren County Sheriffs Dept take the extra time to understand what you area reading and who you area reading about.

independentguy

and this is why law enforcement salivates on this war on drugs. easy money.

kingfisher

Another win win situation for Law enforcement. Keep up the good work. we some how have to justify the nearly $100,000 wages of these people. The war on drugs is the most costly least succesful war in the history of mankind. but it sure does keep a lot of people in the local,state and federal level in these great jobs.many of these people are double and triple dipping at our expense. what a great value for our tax paying $$$$$$$$.

the woo woo kid

Whatever County....so what....just wondering about the 2 million in gold and who got the windfall. Which by the way, could change in value very substantially depending on when the value quote was given in relation to the current value of gold.

Somebody picked up a nice payday and the taxpayers should know who/which gov't entity recieved the money. That's very important.

Joel Benoit

You know what a cop does? He gets up every morning trying to make the world a better place for his neighbor. He goes out and has to see things that thankfully most people never have to see. He unfortunately has to see the heartache and pain, and violent world that is the world of drug abusers, dealers and addicts. He or she is another victim of Prohibition-and the drug war. What a noble profession to go out and try and make the world safer for your neighbor. But there will always be twenty percent of the population that makes bad decisions and uses drugs. I can understand the ideology and the passion behind the drug war. Sheriff Jim (I see the Post Star renamed him) Murphy is trying to to make the world a better place for his neighbors. Bravo to him for that intention. But hopefully someday soon we end the drug war-it is unwinalbe. Hopefully soon it goes from a law enforcement problem to a public health problem. Prison and jail will never rehabilitate.

Muz i Belka
Muz i Belka

[quote]Joel Benoit said: "You know what a cop does? He gets up every morning trying to make the world a better place for his neighbor. He goes out and has to see things that thankfully most people never have to see. (snippity) But hopefully someday soon we end the drug war-it is unwinalbe. Hopefully soon it goes from a law enforcement problem to a public health problem. Prison and jail will never rehabilitate. "[/quote]

Honest cops can join Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, LEAP. http://www.leap.cc/

I agree with you, Joel, about treatment vs. incarceration and the black market being a problem (like alcohol prohibition). I'm not sure the current regime of homeland security money, asset forfeiture and undercover informants to buy police cars and gear is "honest policing", it seems to breed its own corruption and take on a life of its own, without necessarily making the world better.


viper

just another way the county can hide the way they spend $$$$ on themselves, and there extra overtime they claim to be doing, while they sit around a table eatting donuts and drinking coffee.

boston

Question. Maybe the Post Star could find out the answer. Is it true that the Sheriff has a "fund" which is a considerable amount of money that he gets from the Feds to use for undercover drug related activities like setting up sting operations? The money is "secret" and does not show up on any budget. Maybe I'm off on this, but if I am, a former Warren County DA misled me. Not sure if it's connected, but a lot of law enforcement types have nice places in Florida and nice yachts. The only ones winning the drug war is the CIA, thier making billions. Pat Tillman wanted to go around the country telling us about this but he "accidently" caught some "friendly fire"

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