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Schumer Outlines New Plan To Bolster Law Enforcement In Plattsburgh

Senator and Mayor Dan Stewart reveal plan to locate a new law enforcement headquarters at the former Air Force base

Senator secures three additional Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers to protect New York's borders

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today detailed a comprehensive plan to bolster law enforcement efforts in Plattsburgh. The Senator outlined plans to locate a new law enforcement center at the former Air Force base that will house federal, local, and state agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In addition, Schumer announced a commitment from the DEA to bring three additional agents to Plattsburgh for better defense against a potential influx of illegal drugs.

I applaud Mayor Stewart and Chief Racicot for recognizing something weve come to learn on the federal level that effective homeland security depends on integration and cooperation between various law enforcement agencies, Schumer said. Our local law enforcement is truly on the front lines in the war on terror, and so to the degree that they work hand in hand with their federal counterparts, their effectiveness multiplies. This is an exciting new plan that could really carve out an identity for Plattsburgh as a national model for local law enforcement.

The plan to house local, state, and federal agents at the Air Force base is designed to improve communication between the agencies and the coordination of law enforcement activities to heighten protections along the border. Currently, both the DEA and the FBI share an office in downtown Plattsburgh but both agencies are looking for new space. Under the new plan, both federal agencies would move to the Air Force Base with local law enforcement and State Troopers.

Schumer and Mayor Dan Stewart explained that placing the Plattsburgh Police Department at the new center would not only locate it under the same roof as DEA and FBI, but would double its square footage over the current station. The plan would be to use the additional space to create a stateoftheart law enforcement training facility. Police Chief Racicot, who is the coordinator of the Zone 9 Regional Law Enforcement Training Center that serves as the police academy for all police agencies in the eastern half of the North Country, would like to see the new facility house the Zone 9 center as well. Schumer said that the training center could become a destination for roughly 700 law enforcement officials from the US and Canada each month, hosting specialized training for veteran law enforcement officers in the latest crimefighting and informationsharing techniques. This would not only would be a tremendous boost for law enforcement, but the officers patronizing local establishments could jumpstart the local economy as well, Schumer explained.

Schumer also announced that DEA has officially approved his request for additional protection in Plattsburgh from illegal drugs. Because of its proximity to the USCanadian border, Plattsburgh and the surrounding area requires extra protection from drug trafficking and the smuggling of possible terrorists. In recent years, drug trafficking arrests have spiked significantly from 33 arrests in Plattsburgh in fiscal year 1999, to 47 in fiscal year 2002 and 26 in the first half of fiscal year 2003 alone. An independent report by Hyett Palma consultants said drug traffic in Plattsburgh must be reduced. In addition, local sources within the DEA informed Schumer last year that the Plattsburgh office needed a beefedup presence.

In response, Schumer successfully lobbied DEA Administrator Karen Tandy to add more agents to the Plattsburgh office. Schumer said that the commitment from the DEA to bring two new agents and one full time criminal investigator to Plattsburgh is an important step in stopping the increased drug activities along the border. Since July, Schumer has worked with the DEA to secure the additional agents in response to discussions with local law enforcement about the rapid spike in drug related arrests since 1999. In addition to extra agents, the DEA recently obtained final approval to elevate the status of the Plattsburgh DEA Office from a Post of Duty Office to a fullfledged Resident Office.

Ive been saying for a long time now that when it comes to illegal drug trafficking, residents of the Plattsburgh region deserve every bit of the protection that residents along the Southern Border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California receive, Schumer said. I made that case to the DEA and I'm glad they listened. For too long, the federal government has paid the Northern Border defense network short shrift. With todays announcement that the additional agents are on the way, that's all changing. Schumer was joined by Plattsburgh Mayor Daniel Stewart; Police Chief Desmond Racicot; DEA District Agent John Bryfonski; and local law enforcement officers.