NORWICH – All in attendance left their seats to honor and applaud the winner of the esteemed Joseph J. Benenati Jr. at the 23rd Annual Chenango County Sheriff’s Office Awards held Friday, March 6, 2015.
Following the call to order, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of honored guests by Undersheriff Daniel Frair, Chenango County Sheriff Ernest R. Cutting Jr. shared some opening remarks.
Cutting thanked everyone in attendance not only for their hard work in 2014 with the CCSO, but said that the night was a moment for everyone to slow down. Cutting added that day in and day out the employees work extremely hard at their jobs, and the night was to recognize those who stood out last year in their respective fields.
First, Cutting expressed his thanks to his command staff, who heads four main units, each of which contains sub-units. The five that were recognized as command staff were Undersheriff Frair, Jail Administrator Lieutenant Chris Miles, Lieutenant Richard Cobb — head of law enforcement, Chenango County Chief Dispatcher A. Wesley Jones, and Craig Allison in the Civil Division.
“I wouldn’t be as effective of a sheriff without these great people,” said Cutting.
Cutting added that all of the staff carries out their duties with a smile.
Last year, the sheriff said, there were 128 prisoners in the jail at one point. “Ten years ago I never would have thought that in a million years we’d house that many.” He said the jail was at maximum capacity and the office was down on staff members. Cutting said it posed a great challenge to Lt. Miles, yet operations went smoothly.
The sheriff comments that the office has seen many new faces in 2015, but staff remains down 2 full-time staff members and other part time members. “We’re always hiring staff in one place or another,” said Cutting.
86 inmates are in the jail currently, according to the sheriff, and one challenge that has been ongoing is the healthcare of said inmates. Obstacles include diabetes, substance abuse issues, heroin addiction and withdrawal, and due to the resurgence of heroin and use of needles, a rise in Hepatitis among inmates. Additionally, he said mental health issues are a challenge.
Cutting said every year the staff takes part in protective training with regard to medical and mental issues among inmates.
The sheriff took time to commend the kitchen staff who prepares more than 600 meals per day.
With regard to the law enforcement division, Cutting said heroin remains a problem within the county, and the CCSO has ramped up the training by equipping each deputy with Naloxone, or Narcan, an antidote for an individual overdosing on an opiate.
“Some have really struggled with that,” said Cutting. “Why would we save a drug addict? Well, they are still someone’s child, parent, sibling.”