Baker sworn in as new D.A.

Mary Perham
Judge Henry Scudder swears in Brooks Baker as the new Steuben County District Attorney Friday morning in Bath as Baker’s family looks on.

The face of crime has changed since Brooks Baker first joined the Steuben County District Attorney’s office 17 years ago.

“There’s the meth epidemic,” Baker said. “I mean methamphetamines were not even on the map back then. And the crack problem, too. I mean, drugs have always been a problem, but meth is something else. That will continue to be a challenge.”

Sworn in Friday, December 30, as the county’s top prosecutor, Baker said he is ready to take on controlling the spread of the dangerous manufactured drug, with the help of law enforcement.

Those attending the swearing-in ceremony included county judges and attorneys, members of local and state police units, and the county sheriff’s department – all of whom have worked with Baker during his time as assistant district attorney.

John Tunney, the county’s long-time district attorney, said Baker is more than up to the challenge facing him. Tunney is retiring.

“Absolutely he’s ready,” Tunney said. “He is, in my estimation, more ready than I was 24 years ago.”

Baker worked for Tunney for 17 years and before he left for a brief stint in the civil law office of U.S. Rep Tom Reed, R-Corning. Baker returned to the county office last year.

He credited Tunney for setting the bar high and told the gathering. “This really is, to me, a humbling day. To have earned the trust of the Steuben County voters is really humbling. This is, I think, the best job any lawyer can have.”

Baker said later his department must look for ways to do “more with less” as budgets are cut from state and county sources.

That will mean more cooperation – between the law enforcement agencies themselves, and with the DA, Baker said.

“Fortunately, we already have (Tunney’s) drug task force as a model for more cooperation,” Baker said. “And that can work with other things, welfare fraud, child abuse, domestic violence. We have the blueprint.”

Baker said the result of the cooperation will be more efficient police work and a safer county.

“People will be safe,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that.”