Editor’s note: The following is a selection of reader feedback received regarding Oswego County Sheriff Don Hilton. To submit a letter to the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write us at 140 W. 1st St., Oswego.
I am frankly horrified at Sheriff Don Hilton’s disregard for his sworn duties to this county as indicated by his participation in the rally for President Donald Trump on Oneida Lake. It frightens me that Hilton carries a weapon and disregards his oath of office to serve and protect all citizens, including those of us who do not support the president’s re-election.
In researching the role of sheriff, I was dismayed to find that the person who holds this position is the most powerful law enforcement officer in the county. Now it seems the sheriff has the power to enforce the laws however he/she sees fit — and is doing so.
As we are a majority Republican county, I am not surprised by the weak response to Hilton’s flagrant disregard for his duties. Imagine Hilton as a Democrat. Imagine him openly supporting Joe Biden and other Democratic Party candidates at taxpayer expense. Imagine that he hired and promoted only like-minded officers. In such a case I have no doubt the response would be stronger than to ask him to “not do it again.”
I know my only recourse is to begin a campaign to vote him out of office in 2022. Perhaps County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup and his colleagues will have some influence on Hilton’s partisan behavior until we can vote him out.
As a lifelong resident of Oswego County I am incensed by the display of the defaced United States flag flown by the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office patrol boat during a political rally on Aug. 2, 2020. I am even more angered by Sheriff Don Hilton’s casual response to this blatantly inappropriate and egregious activity by his deputies. Is he ignorant of the rules regarding political displays on county property and the rules covering the appropriate flag to be flown over that property, or does he simply not care?
At a minimum, I would think that some appropriate discipline needs to be administered to the deputies on the boat since from public photos of the deputies on the boat it is plain that they don’t appear to be engaged in any sort of public safety or police work. It looks more like a fun day on the water.
At a minimum, I feel that it would be appropriate to Sheriff’s Department to rescind the wages paid to the deputies for the day on the boat and require them to reimburse the county for the use of the counties property as a pleasure craft.
I would prefer more severe penalties for such blatant disregard for the office of sheriff and sheriff’s deputy, such as unpaid time off and demotion for the deputies and a resignation letter from Mr. Hilton, but I won’t expect anything remotely appropriate.
By the way, what does this incident say about my treatment at the hands of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department should I choose to display a Biden For President bumper sticker on my vehicle or a Biden sign on my lawn?
Sincerely but angrily,
This letter is the textbook definition of shutting the barn door after the horse has left, but who knew it would have to be spelled out?
Taxpayer dollars cannot be used for political purposes. Full stop. Flying any campaign flag on taxpayer-funded equipment, by employees of the people of Oswego County, is not only a clear violation of law but also an egregious display of bad judgment, political posturing and a blatant misuse of taxpayer funds.
The Sheriff is quoted as saying that the boat patrol was “showing support" for the president. The mission of the sheriff's department is (from their own website) "providing for the peace and security of all residents and visitors in Oswego County." There is no mention, you'll notice, of supporting political campaigns.
As it so happens there is a flag they can fly to show that they support the country: The flag of the United States of America. If they really like flags they can even fly the county of Oswego flag, and maybe the New York state flag! Otherwise, county sheriffs who support the current president's campaign should take the day off, join the Trumptilla in their own personal boat, and fly any flag they wish.
Finally, Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup's "talking to" of Sheriff Hilton is laughable. A slap on the wrist without any requirement for the sheriff to articulate and apologize for the department's error and explain how procedures will be implemented so this doesn't happen again, and explain how taxpayer dollars will be refunded for this event, is frankly no resolution at all.
In reference to the article in Tuesday's Pall-Times entitled "Sheriff says no problems with flying Trump campaign flag on county boat" — are county residents paying for a sheriff or a Trump campaign manager?