Letters: Endorsements for Putnam County Sheriff

I have had the good fortune of meeting Robert Langley Jr., the Democratic candidate for Putnam County sheriff.

What a breath of fresh air! Langley spoke about keeping Putnam safer while saving money and returning integrity to the sheriff’s position. He assured the crowd at a recent event that he would establish a good working relationship with the Putnam County District Attorney’s office. He laid out a common-sense approach to deal with the opioid crisis and advocated for community policing to help make our neighborhoods stronger and safer.

Robert would be so good for Putnam County. His commonsense approach and strong work ethic came shining through. I’ll be proud to vote for Langley this November.

James Mills, Mahopac

I am writing to express my support for Robert Langley Jr. for Putnam County sheriff.

Langley has been a dedicated law enforcement officer, a committed volunteer fireman and will be a great sheriff for Putnam County, bringing the kind of integrity so desperately needed right now.

Our current sheriff has been bailed out by the legislature to the tune of $125,000 because he publicly lied. The taxpayer money to pay for that lie is not covered by any kind of insurance and does not represent anything other than cronyism at its worst.

We don’t need any more shady back-room Club Putnam deals. We need a dedicated, ethical sheriff who focuses his energy on battling the problem we’re facing now: the drug crisis. We need a sheriff who will work with mental health professionals to get addicts the treatment they need instead of arresting them, repeatedly.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Let’s avoid that this November. Vote for Langley for Putnam County sheriff.

Lithgow Osborne, Garrison

There are two candidates on the ballot for Putnam County sheriff on Nov. 7. One of them, Robert Langley, has 23 years of hands-on policing experience in the sheriff’s department. He’s been in corrections, on patrol, in forensics, in investigation. If that’s not enough, he’s been a volunteer firefighter in Mahopac and Garrison for a combined 22 years.

To say that Langley is qualified for the job of sheriff is a major understatement. He’s pledged to return integrity to the sheriff’s office, and, boy, do we need that.

The other candidate on the ballot, Don Smith, is brazenly running for re-election despite the fact that his personal vendettas have already cost taxpayers $125,000 in a civil-suit settlement.

The top cop in the county costs us money. And there are more lawsuits likely to come against Smith. How much more will he cost us?

I urge independent voters and voters in all parties to look at the records of both men. It shouldn’t be difficult to choose Langley and a return to integrity in the office that needs it most.

John Plummer, Cold Spring

There is only one trustworthy candidate running for sheriff: Robert L. Langley Jr. I know that he will restore honesty, respect and integrity to the office.

Leonora Burton, Garrison

Results are important. When I think about Putnam County politics, little matters more than the result of an elected official’s term, which is why the Putnam County Young Republicans are proud to endorse Sheriff Don Smith.

Sheriff Smith gets results. Putnam County is once again one of the safest counties in New York. Kent and Carmel are ranked among the safest cities in New York. Carmel is in the top 100 safest cities in the country.

Coordinating between at least five law enforcement agencies, a correctional facility, the district attorney and EMS and fire departments is no easy task, but Don’s steadfast commitment to our Constitutional rights and American values continues to uplift Putnam County as the shining city upon the hill.

Sheriff Smith has put much effort to community and civic outreach, an incredibly important endeavor during this highly polarized time. Being a retired general, he has an incredible reverence for America’s armed forces and supports our local veteran groups like no other. He is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, has a presence with the National Sheriffs’ Association, and like the Boy Scouts’ motto, he has ensured his department is prepared for anything with advanced training and equipment.

The Putnam County Young Republicans have endorsed Don Smith for his proven track record, his dedication to the people of Putnam, his unwavering law enforcement leadership and his unbendable commitment to law and order. Please join us supporting Sheriff Smith in the November election. We need Don to continue serving and protecting the people of Putnam County.

Nick Fannin, Carmel
Fannin is president of the Putnam County Young Republicans.

U.S. presidents are allowed only two four-year terms so that they can’t cause too much trouble. Sheriff Smith has been in office for four terms. Such a long hold on power tends to breed corruption. And, indeed, Smith has admitted to abusing his power.

Regarding damaging press releases he issued against his enemy, Smith admitted: “These statements were untrue, and I should not have made them.” How can we trust such a man to impartially enforce the law?

To re-elect Smith would be to reward lying and recklessness by a powerful official. Putnam taxpayers must pay $125,000 of the settlement resulting from Smith’s political vendetta. Another lawsuit against Putnam is pending.

His opponent is Robert Langley, a tall man with a polite disposition and a quiet, commanding presence. Langley was born and raised in Putnam County and lives in Garrison.

Unlike Don Smith, Langley has devoted his career to law enforcement. He served in the Putnam Sheriff’s Department from 1984 until he retired in 2007. He won many commendations for his work. Now he runs his own security company. Langley understands the law and respects its limits. The fact that he has served in three volunteer fire departments further demonstrates his public spiritedness.

Probably because of his work as a criminal investigator, Langley listens before he speaks and asks questions before he comes to conclusions. These are rare qualities in a public official, and they are urgently needed in the Sheriff’s Department.

Eliza Starbuck, Cold Spring

I would like to express my support for the re-election of Sheriff Smith. He has served our county well for more than 18 years, first as deputy county executive for two years and then as sheriff for 16 years. He has also served our country honorably for more than 30 years, including in Vietnam, and rose to the rank of brigadier general, which is no easy task.

Without a doubt he has one of the most distinguished backgrounds, being both a graduate of the New York Military Academy and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

I am retired from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, which is the agency that oversees and regulates law enforcement agencies. The work that it does includes gathering information about crime so that funding and resources can be provided and areas of need can be targeted. Based on those crime stats, Sheriff Smith has led Putnam County to the distinction of being the “safest” county in New York for eight years, despite there being many much smaller and more rural counties.

I also worked for the state Attorney General’s office for more than 16 years. To help put Sheriff Smith’s recent civil settlement in perspective, the primary responsibility of that agency is to defend other state agencies and their employees in claims against them. It is commonplace that government agencies, public officials and civil servants are sued. Litigation is initiated about everything from an inmate whose toothbrush is the wrong color to a motorist who hit a pothole. Federal, state, county and municipal governments have deeper pockets than individuals, so there are hundreds to thousands of lawsuits filed each year depending upon the level of government. In 2016, New York City alone settled more than $1 billion in claims.

That does not account for any of the rest of New York state, its counties or municipalities. The taxpayers pay settlement money in different ways; the state is self-insured, the General Fund and municipalities are insured through private companies.

Public officials and civil servants who work for these entities are indemnified (held harmless) unless they act outside the scope of their authority, and the only real time we even hear about these lawsuits and settlements is when someone is running for election. The reality is that these lawsuits and settlements happen every day, all day and the settlement amounts and totals are staggering every year.

Smith’s settlement amounts to a nuisance fee in the scheme of things, and we wouldn’t even know about it if he wasn’t running for re-election. A sheriff is an administrative position that relies on information as gathered and provided by his department. It is wrong to believe that in 18 years, a dedicated, loyal public servant is immune from making a mistake, but it is even more disturbing to dismiss all those years of committed service to our county and more than 30 years of honorable service to our country because of one mistake.

It is for these reasons and Sheriff Smith’s proven record that I support his re-election to keep Putnam County as the safest county in New York.

Cindy Trimble, Cold Spring

On Nov. 7, Putnam County voters have an opportunity to make a change and elect Robert Langley Jr. as our new sheriff, rather than supporting a dishonest, irresponsible incumbent whose actions weigh us down with a pending lawsuit and $125,000 bill.

Langley will make a fine sheriff. His qualifications show a life committed to community and law enforcement. His deep roots in Putnam County run the length of a lifetime and will support the challenges of meeting the needs of individual towns and villages through enhanced community policing.

Having served for more than two decades in the Sheriff’s Department, Langley has a unique perspective to address the impact opioid addiction has had on families, schools, blocks and villages.

But there is work to be done before Langley can start. Let’s take care of some cleaning and vote out the dirty record of Smith. We must tell friends that we have a choice to reset the ethical standards by which we measure our top lawman by voting for Langley.

My family has made homes in Southeast and Cold Spring and we hope from east to west our neighbors check the box for Langley. We all deserve it.

Laura Kaufman, Cold Spring

Anyone jaded, disillusioned or just disappointed by the state of national affairs must remember this: We have the power to insist on change here in our own backyard. Putnam County deserves a sheriff who puts the safety of our communities above petty politics, and whose only focus is on public service. On Nov. 7, please join me in voting for Robert Langley Jr.

Sean Conway, Cold Spring

Here’s what we have in Putnam County: a sheriff who admits he lied under oath, put an innocent person in jail to advance his own political career and relied on taxpayers to bail him out of a mess he made all by himself. That sounds like rural Alabama 50 years ago, not Putnam County in 2017.

David Gelber, Garrison

The Democratic candidate for sheriff, Robert Langley Jr., has been extremely vociferous regarding Sheriff Donald Smith’s decision to agree to former D.A. Adam Levy’s condition that he make a public statement to settle Levy’s suit out-of-court (and save the taxpayers the cost of a trial). Langley held press conferences and organized demonstrations with his supporters holding signs insulting Smith at the entrance of the sheriff’s department, which I feel were an embarrassment to Putnam residents.

Langley was a county deputy for 23 years, from 1984 to 2007, 15 of which were served under Sheriff Robert Thouborron, who was unseated by Smith after Gov. George Pataki ordered an investigation into alleged corruption within the department because of at least 10 complaints and lawsuits against the sheriff and county between 1995 and 2000.

Langley was a named defendant in a 2003 action in which the plaintiff claimed his accuser had sexual relations with members of the sheriff’s department and a history of substance abuse and making frivolous complaints with the department against persons with whom she had had relationships (Thomas v. County of Putnam, 262 F. Supp. 2d 241 [S.D.N.Y. 2003])

In another suit brought against the department, a federal jury awarded an employee $645,000 after concluding Thoubboron had used deputies to harass employees who disagreed with him.

How could someone from that kind of culture work cohesively with today’s professional law-enforcement personnel and our new D.A.?

Appalled by the fact that certain persons have used their clout and personal financial power to attract negative media attention to Putnam County from coast to coast these past few years, it would absolutely sicken me to see those same people use Langley to destroy our county’s law-enforcement community and decimate the culture which the deputies are accustomed to working, as well as the department’s ability to work with our D.A.’s office.

The voters in this county have worked too hard to ensure that we have a functioning and professional law enforcement and criminal prosecutor office that works as a cohesive team to have this destroyed.

If you care about Putnam County as the home of your family, please vote on Nov. 7 to keep Donald B. Smith as our sheriff.

Andy Powers, Mahopac

Editor’s note: Langley was one of seven defendants in a 2003 lawsuit. The others were another deputy, the county, the sheriff’s department, the district attorney, the plaintiff’s court-appointed attorney and a special prosecutor. It stemmed from a case in which a woman walked into the sheriff’s office in November 2000 to report her boyfriend had assaulted her. According to the decision, Langley processed her complaint and, noting her injuries, called an ambulance. When a grand jury declined to indict the boyfriend, he claimed false arrest and malicious prosecution. The judge ruled the plaintiff had no case and threw the case out.

Given that this letter was received close to Election Day, we asked Langley for a response. He wrote: “The federal judge in the case found that in my service as deputy I acted lawfully, and that I had probable cause to arrest a man accused of domestic violence. Since I acted properly, the case against me was dismissed even before any trial. The federal court found that I acted professionally and honestly in the discharge of my duties. Don Smith’s behavior as sheriff, on the other hand, has been unlawful. In the Levy and Hossu cases, Smith admitted that he lied. He lied to the media in his press releases, to the governor, the state Attorney General, the U.S., the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. We the taxpayers are paying for those lies. As I have said so many times, it is not the rank and file of the Sheriff’s Office who have failed the people of Putnam County. It is the sheriff’s leadership that has failed us. I will be a sheriff you can trust.”

2 thoughts on “Letters: Endorsements for Putnam County Sheriff

  1. Thank you for publishing these thoughtful letters.

    One important note, Andy Powers writes: “Langley was a named defendant in a 2003 action in which the plaintiff claimed his accuser had sexual relations with members of the sheriff’s department and a history of substance abuse and making frivolous complaints with the department against persons with whom she had had relationships (Thomas v. County of Putnam, 262 F. Supp. 2d 241 [S.D.N.Y. 2003]).”

    Readers should be aware that the plaintiff in the above-referenced case was accused of domestic violence. Langley himself called an ambulance to treat the victim. What does the alleged abuser do? He turns around and attempts (and fails) to sue the entire Putnam County Sheriff’s Department charging, among other bogus and abusive claims, that the woman had sex with members of the department. These accusations have no bearing on this election.

    Putnam County deserves a fair and honest sheriff who will obey the laws he has an obligation to uphold. That sheriff is Robert Langley Jr. A vote for Langley on November 7 is a vote for safety, law and order.

  2. Aside from the Second Amendment, Mr. Fannin, president of Putnam County Young Republicans, doesn’t address the rest of the Constitution, such as the amendments dealing with searches and arrests and equal protection under the law. These fundamental rights are readily nullified by dictatorships that employ the law to enforce their hold over the population. Donald Smith has shown himself to be a true disciple of those who would pervert the law to falsely accuse, imprison the innocent and retaliate against opponents. His actions are in concert with the goals of dictatorships. His actions are the first step. And don’t say it can’t happen here. It is starting to happen in Putnam County.