JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey wants to know what can be done about a residency requirement for corrections officers that could result in the termination of one of his officers.
Lorey said the county has a corrections officer who lives outside the county, and county Personnel Director Theresa Souza has directed the officer to move into the county by Nov. 16 or "forfeit his employment."
Lorey on Monday asked the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee to try to resolve the matter. The committee referred the issue to the Personnel Committee.
Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey explains a residency requirement for corrections officers to the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee on Monday at the County Office Building in
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Current law requires county corrections officers to live in Fulton County.
Lorey said supervisors either could ask the state Legislature for an exception to be placed in the state Public Officers Law to allow corrections officers to live in adjoining counties or adopt a local law.
Lorey said other officers have expressed an interest in living in an adjoining county.
Stratford Supervisor Robert Johnson said the corrections officer in this case "should keep his job," but this "glitch" needs to be worked out with personnel.
"We obviously have to work on it in the next couple months," county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said.
Souza couldn't be reached this morning for comment.
Board Chairman Michael F. Gendron said the state Legislature is out of session, but he alluded to the county's 11 percent unemployment rate for May - the highest upstate.
"Having high unemployment, it probably behooves us to hire a Fulton County person," Gendron said. "We should protect Fulton County taxpayers. That's just me speaking."
Committee Chairman William Waldron said he would rather see corrections officers come from Fulton County because of the high unemployment.
Local law allows deputies to either live in Fulton County or an adjoining county.
Fulton County Sheriff's Office Employees Alliance President James Eschler, the head of a union representing the corrections officers, told the Public Safety Committee that corrections officers are deputies.
"We interpret the law as we were sworn in as deputy sheriffs," he stated.
Lorey said if the Personnel Department doesn't interpret corrections officers as deputies, then "I don't have the authority to make them do anything."
Although corrections officers can't work on road patrol, he said they get the same training as other deputies and are considered "peace officers" able to make arrests under federal law.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.