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Sheriff Allard stunned by county resolution, bringing Supreme Court action against legislators


Steuben County Sheriff James L. Allard says a resolution passed by the Steuben County Legislature on Sept. 25 will leave the sheriff open to lawsuits.

He also said the lawmakers were divided on this, and they did not have public input. 

As a result, Supreme Court papers have been filed by the sheriff against the county, something the sheriff said he never imagined he would do.

Here is his full statement:

October 2, 2023 Media Release: Petition to Enjoin Resolutions 


On Monday, Sept. 25, a divided Steuben County Legislature passed two unprecedented resolutions, with virtually no public input or debate, that stripped me of the legal defense and indemnification against lawsuits that the County Legislature unanimously gave me just six years ago; and imposed an unlawful requirement on me to purchase millions of dollars in liability insurance.

One of these resolutions would prevent me from carrying out the duties of my office until I have personally purchased those millions of dollars in insurance; the other takes away the protection that the County gives to other officers and staff against being sued for performing their duties.

The Legislature offered me no reasons for this action.

I won’t speculate about their motives, except to say that this comes after years of moves by a handful of members of County government to undermine confidence in my administration.

What I can say is that these resolutions don’t serve any public safety interest, or any law enforcement interest, or any taxpayer interest.

The resolutions place unlawful restrictions on an independent, elected office — punishing my administration for trying to carry out the duties and obligations we have under the law.

More than that, they poison the good working relationship that this office has always had with its county-level partners.

Even setting aside the law — leaving aside the legal arguments about these resolutions — they just defy common sense in good government, which is why a statewide association of Sheriffs is poised to come out in opposition to them as well.

I did not ever expect I would have to file a legal action against the County whose citizens I serve, and County officers that I have worked so well with over the years. It’s not something that I ever would have wanted to do.

I’ll go farther, and say it makes me sad to do so.

But I have to safeguard my office’s ability to perform its law enforcement responsibilities to the citizens of this county, and with them in mind I have filed a petition in Steuben County Supreme Court to enjoin these Resolutions.

Further details about the background to these resolutions, and my application to stop them, can be found in the petition and papers filed in Steuben County Supreme Court under Index Number E2023-0946CV.

You’ll see in that Petition, that these resolutions came soon after certain individuals in the County tried to end my ability to direct investigations within my own independent office; tried to end the Sheriff’s ability to identify and deal with complaints and possible misconduct in my own ranks.

I’ll leave you to review the details in the petition, but I think it’s enough to say that my office repeatedly tried to have an open discussion with these individuals again and again to resolve any differences on this issue — what the county claims, without any explanation, is a conflict between policies. And again and again, those efforts were rejected in favor of rushing as quickly as possible to punish my office through these two resolutions.

I’m still open to having that discussion, but in the meantime, I have an obligation to the residents of this County to continue to provide reliable and efficient law enforcement, and my office cannot do that with this threat of suspended leadership, liability, and unlawful financial demands hanging over it.

I am optimistic that common sense will prevail here and that these resolutions will be set aside so that I and my office can focus on our law enforcement mission.

Respectfully submitted,

Sheriff James L. Allard

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