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Elections 2018: Three pursue Tompkins sheriff seat

From left to right, the candidates for Tompkins County Sheriff: Josh Brokaw, Ken Lansing, Derek Osborne.

Three people are running for Tompkins County Sheriff. Incumbent Ken Lansing is running on the Independence line. Derek Osborne is on the ballot as a Democrat. Josh Brokaw is running under a Truthsayers endorsement. The position is a four-year term.

Lansing began his career as an officer at SUNY Cortland in 1973 and moved to the Cayuga Heights Police Department in 1974, while he also worked part-time for the Dryden police department. He worked part-time as a Trumansburg sergeant from 1977 to 1998. He was elected as Tompkins County sheriff in 2011.

Osborne started as Cortland city police officer in 1995 and moved to the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department in 2001, where he worked his way up to undersheriff. He retired in 2015 and has worked to integrate federal inmates into the community.

Brokaw is a freelance journalist who founded Truthsayers.org.

Biggest issue

Lansing: “The opioid addiction problem really constitutes a lot of our problems of various crimes throughout this county. We try to do our best to educate. We still have a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer that educates 5th graders in schools around here, something I did for 17 years.”

Osborne: “We cover a relatively rural community, so we tend to have a lot of property crimes. When I was captain, that’s something I worked on getting the force to track geographically.” He also said the opioid epidemic is a big problem. “I will tackle this issue with a multi-faceted approach that protects victims and leaves room for a compassionate approach to healing the addicted,” his website said.

Brokaw: “The clear-cut No. 1 concern for people is opioid drug addiction. I don’t know that there’s any solution that’s been shown to work other than active advocacy.”

Diversion Programs

Osborne: “I would definitely continue that because I know the legislature had been working hard on the programs. When drug-addicted people come through the jail, I would like to see more programs help them, so that when they get released they’re not just left hanging and return to their old habits.”

Brokaw: “We should continue some of those, but the pre-arrest diversion isn’t something we’ve really expanded yet. There’s been a lot of talk about it, about what’s called LEAD — Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion — but it doesn’t seem like there’s much that will to go forward with the program.”

Lansing: He said he would continue doing current diversion programs. “One of the things that we’re working on with the city of Ithaca called LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) and that’s the law enforcement program that is diversion program for the men and women on the street who get a lot of these frequent fliers who commit petit crimes, very minor crimes. Those are usually people who are in dire straights who need housing and food and stuff like that. It’s the reason a lot of the time they commit crimes or they might also have a drug problem.”

Overtime and budget

Brokaw: “I don’t have a detailed working knowledge yet of what the budget is so I can’t sit here and say I’d do X, Y and Z because I don’t know that yet. I’d bring on the best people analytically that I could find to figure out where we could make improvements.”

Lansing: “Overtime is an issue for a lot departments in law enforcement and the things that contribute to that that you can’t control and neither can he or I or anybody else. Just recently we had eight officers from the road patrol alone off on injury disability and one on discipline, that’s almost three people a shift.”

Osborne: “While I was undersheriff, I had overtime for road patrol at record lows and six months after I left they ballooned way out of proportion. I believe it’s a direct result of improper management.”

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