COOPERSTOWN - The Otsego County Board of Representatives has launched an investigation into two separate incidents at the county jail. One of those incidents took place last year -- the other, seven years ago. The probe concerns interaction between inmates and Sheriff's Office employees...and one of the employees under scrutiny is apparently the son of Sheriff Richard Devlin, Jr.
County Board vice-chairman Ed Frazier, Jr. of Unadilla is the head of the board's Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee. He issued a statement Thursday night, saying that the county was told in January of allegations made against Sgt. Ros Devlin, the sheriff's son. The county's labor attorney advised that Sheriff Devlin should not be involved in the investigation due to a conflict of interest. The sheriff was asked to recuse himself, which Frazier says Devlin refused to do. Frazier explained the committee's position at a hearing in Cooperstown Thursday morning.
"We have certain responsibilities to our employees," Frazier said. "Employees from the Corrections Department came to us voicing concerns, and we are looking at those concerns to make sure that they were handled appropriately, fairly and consistently across the board."
Frazier said that as of Thursday, Sheriff Devlin had not told the committee of his final decision regarding an investigation by an outside counsel and had not turned over subpoenaed materials. Frazier also claimed that, while investigating the 2016 complaint, an allegation came to light about an incident in 2010. Sheriff Devlin says both cases have been dealt with.
"One in 2010 was investigated by the New York State Commission of Correction," Devlin said. "All officers were found to act appropriately and that the use of force was necessary and justified. The second incident occurred in 2016 -- another use of force incident where an unruly, disruptive inmate was spitting on correctional officers. At review of that, the supervisor suggested some discipline and discipline was issued to an employee on that matter."
Sheriff Devlin says, following the 2010 incident, the Commission of Correction recommended a policy change at the Sheriff's Office, and its officers were re-trained about deploying pepper spray at a certain distance.
Frazier says his committee will continue its investigation and will continue pursuing the subpoenaed documents.
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