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Sheriff's Office

November 1, 2013 - 10:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, State Police.

Press release:

Effective November 1, the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center, under the administration of the Genesee County Sheriff, will begin dispatching Troopers for the New York State Police Batavia Barracks. Currently, the State Police dispatches Troopers from the State Police Troop Headquarters on West Saile Drive but effective November 1, all police calls for service will be transferred to the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (9-1-1 Center) for dispatch. Currently, all cellular 9-1-1 calls within Genesee County are received by the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center. Staff at the State Police Barracks for non-emergency business may still be contacted by calling (585) 343-2200.

The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (9-1-1 Center) currently dispatches the Batavia Police, Le Roy Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s patrols and all fire and ambulance services within the County. The 9-1-1 Center maintains a staff of approximately 16 full-time and five part-time civilian dispatchers and each shift is staffed with three to four dispatchers. The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center is an accredited 9-1-1 Center by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Accreditation Program and meets all the New York State adopted standards for emergency dispatching.

“Our dispatchers have the highest level of training available and our Center is in compliance with the most stringent requirements for emergency dispatch set forth by New York State,” said Sheriff Gary T. Maha.

Sheriff Maha said, “The partnership with the State Police comes at a time when governments are being asked to cut expenses and share services. It just makes sense to combine dispatching into one central location where future equipment and resources can be dedicated to a single site.

A full upgrade in radios and towers for Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center to Dispatch State Police communication is currently under way to comply with federal mandates for narrow banding. The $10.8 million project, contracted to Harris, will narrow the current bandwidth for police communications to free up additional spectrum for first responders and private industry. The project also updates the current 9-1-1 Center to receive Next Generation 9-1-1 calls. The project has a target date of February 2014 for partial completion and June 2014 for full completion.

State Police Captain Craig Hanesworth said, “I believe that this consolidation of dispatch services provides the citizens of Genesee County with the best in police service and response times while also providing for an increase in the safety of our officers. In addition, this consolidation allows us to reassign Troopers to road patrol functions that would have otherwise been delegated to dispatch and clerical administrative functions. This move should help increase police coverage and response times in the County."

For any police, fire or EMS emergency, citizens should call 9-1-1. Non-emergency police-related calls should be made as follows:

Batavia City Police, 345-6350
Le Roy Village Police, 768-2527
Sheriff/State Police, 343-5000

 

September 25, 2013 - 5:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

A $10.8 million upgrade to the county's emergency radio system is expected to greatly improve the reliability and efficiency of emergency communication, but the unintended consequence is that citizens, off-duty first responders and the media could all be in the dark for months or longer once the new system is fully operational.

It's a bit of a surprise to everybody involved, but the new technology being installed by Rochester-based Harris RF is incompatible with even the most advanced consumer scanners currently on the market.

And when new scanners are released -- perhaps as early as the first part of the year -- they are likely to cost as much as $500 to $600 each.

Sheriff Gary Maha is a big believer in the idea that citizens with scanners help solve crimes.  Clearly, when he spoke with The Batavian in the spring about the new radio system, he didn't anticipate the new technology would be incompatible with existing digital/trunking scanners.

"We're few and far between out there," Maha said. "We need all the eyes we can possibly have. If we have a bank robbery, we put that information out over the air so some citizen down the road may see the vehicle we want and can call 9-1-1. It's a benefit to us to have the people out there watching. They're our eyes and ears out there."

In recent weeks, we've had discussions with Maha about the situation and he said he's interested in finding a solution.

Getting scanners into the hands of media outlets is one thing. One solution that's been used in other parts of the country is for local law enforcement to lease emergency radios, with the outgoing transmission capability disabled, to news outlets. These radios cost in the neighborhood of $4,000 each, so it's still an expensive solution.

Another solution is putting streaming feeds of emergency transmissions from the P25 system on the county's Web site. But it's unclear at this point if the county has the available bandwidth or necessary technology to make this happen.

A Web-based solution would help both media outlets and make transmissions available to all county residents who care to tune in.

The Sheriff along with Undersheriff William Sheron met yesterday with executives at Harris.

Sheron said that Harris indicated it's a problem beyond the scope of their work, but said they are aware of other jurisdictions doing exactly what the Sheriff is considering.

"We're certainly aware of the issue and are interested in finding a solution," Sheron said.

Genesee County isn't the only jurisdiction facing this issue, as more and more agencies switch to the new technology and RadioReference.com's forums are filled with discussions about the situation.

What The Batavian has been able to piece together from the forum posts as well as interviewing Gerry Oliver, owner of G&G Communications in Le Roy, is that:

  • A company called GRE America made a radio that was designed to be compatible with Phase II technology, but the company went out of business. Its radio was imperfect technology and needed improvements and wouldn't necessarily work with Harris RF communication systems. BRS Phase II TDMA radios can be found on Ebay, but you take your chances buying one.
  • A company, The Whistler Group, Inc., has acquired GRE's intellectual property and is planning to enter into the scanner business. It didn't specifically announce a Phase II scanner, but presumably they'll bring one to market, perhaps before the end of March.
  • Representatives from Uniden have dropped hints in Radio Reference that the company -- which is the largest manufacturer of scanners -- is close to announcing a Phase II scanner. Estimates of when it will go to market range from fiscal Q1 2014 through the end of 2014.
  • Oliver believes that even after the switch-over, fire dispatch will remain on channel 4612, which means scanners currently programmed to pick up that channel will still be able to hear the fire dispatcher. There just won't be any chatter from emergency responders in the field answering the calls for people still listening on old scanners.

Radio Reference is an organization of ham radio operators and scanner enthusiasts. Through RF, volunteers from around the nation make their local emergency communications available on the radioreference.com Web site. Every smartphone app that allows people to listen to police and fire calls on their iPhones and Droids uses RR feeds, so if RR doesn't have working Phase II scanners, then those apps won't work for P25 jurisdictions.

Harris officials would not comment for this story.

The county has until March 1 to stop using one of its current 800 mhz channel so that the bandwidth becomes available for an inter-operable communication channel for federal Homeland Security.

Steven Sharpe, director of emergency communication, said installation begins next month, but current scanners will work on existing emergency channels until the P25 infrastructure is in place and operational.

Migration to the new system for emergency users should begin in December.

Beyond that the schedule of the transition depends on other factors -- from FCC licensing to tower crew availability -- though all equipment is scheduled to be installed by Feb. 1, giving the county one month to meet the 800 mhz channel deadline.

What happens at that point largely depends on what the county can make available to citizens and media for monitoring emergency transmissions, and what Whistler and Uniden make commercially available for purchase.

Oliver said there are a lot of people concerned about the issue, and people should be concerned.

"This is a public safety issue and it's a public information issue," Oliver said. "There's the average listener who pays taxes and thinks they have a right to listen in, but there's also the issue of firemen, off-duty police officers and EMTs -- how are they going to listen?

"I hope there's a solution for safety sake," he added. "Let's say I'm an (off duty) EMT and I live down the street from a call, a scanner might tell me, do I respond? What should I do if I hear nobody's responding? Those are the people who need scanners."

August 20, 2013 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, annual report.

The Sheriff's Office once again experienced an increase in calls for service in 2012.

There were 27,787 calls in 2012 compared to 25,923 in 2011 and 21,334 in 2010.

The latest numbers are in the recently released Sheriff's Office annual report.

Here is some of the other data contained in the report.

Jail:

  • The jail served 83,497 meals;
  • The inmate food expense was $138,361;
  • The inmate medical expense was $184,713;
  • A total of 1,146 inmates were booked;
  • The jail population over the course of the year went from 85 inmates to 69 inmates;
  • Corrections officers completed 808 hours of training;
  • The jail collected $61,000 in fees for such things as housing Wyoming County inmates, federal inmates, state prisoner transports and the inmate telephone system ($22,000).

Civil Service:

  • There were 511 summons/supoenas served;
  • For Family Court, 964 summons;
  • Evictions, 138.

Law enforcement:

  • Deputies received 5,362 hours of training on about 30 topics, including breath analyis, criminal street gang investigations, DNA evidence, domestic violence, sex offender cases, DWI enforcement, terrorist bombing, awareness, workplace violence, drug identification, active shooter training, police mental health, child abuse and human trafficking;
  • 438 active warrants were cleared;
  • The Stop DWI program received $154,799 in grants;
  • 200 child IDs were processed;
  • Department vehicles traveled 812,486 miles;
  • DWI arrests -- 150, with 29 being in the 21-24 age range, 113 males, 51 on Saturdays and 14 felony DWIs;
  • Refusal to take breath test -- 22;
  • Total breath tests administered was 138, with 15 reading .00, six .08, 11 at .14, 15 at .15, 13 at .16 and nine at .22.

Accident statistics:

  • There were 10 fatal accidents and 11 total fatalities;
  • There were 136 hit-and-run accidents;
  • There were 192 personal injury accidents;
  • Accidents involving an animal -- 596;
  • Alcohol related accidents -- 52.

Citations:

  • 204, expired registration
  • 68, uninsured motor vehicle
  • 31, tinted windows
  • 35, driver's view obstructed
  • 124, unlicensed operator
  • 142, aggravated unlicensed operation
  • 29, leaving the scene of a property damage accident
  • 224, disobey traffic control device
  • 57, failure to keep right
  • 69, following too closely
  • 42, failure to yield right of way
  • 307, speeding over 55 mph
  • 404, speeding in zone
  • 3, driving too slowly
  • 56, driving while on mobile phone
  • 293, no seat belt

Criminal complaints:

  • 36, aggravated harassment
  • 2, arson
  • 11, bad check
  • 131, burglary
  • 36, criminal possession of a controlled substance
  • 61, criminal contempt
  • 118, criminal mischief
  • 29, disorderly conduct
  • 20, endangering the welfare of a child
  • 49, fraud
  • 1, gambling
  • 105, grand larceny
  • 138, harassment
  • 419, larceny
  • 283, liquor law violations
  • 1, motor vehicle theft
  • 9, rape
  • 16, sexual abuse
  • 65, trespass
  • 83, unlawful possession of marijuana
  • 1,904 total criminal complaints

Investigations

  • The Local Drug Enforcement Task Force initiated 73 cases, made 71 drug arrests, with 16 cases pending and 14 search warrants executed;
  • The task force handled 57 vice cases with 44 arrests;
  • There were 17 polygraph tests given;
  • Investigators handled 118 misdemenaor cases;
  • There were 262 pistol permit records checks;
  • A 20-year-old cold case was solved when Deputy Chris Erion used a polygraph  and a child abuse suspect confessed;
  • The juvenile section handled 199 cases.

The 9-1-1 Call Center:

  • 49,846 calls for police, 2,342 for fire and 8,459 for EMS, for 56,440 total;
  • The Sheriff's Office received 23,231 calls for service; BPD, 14,749, Le Roy PD 3,562;
  • Dispatchers received 29,156 inbound seven-digit calls;
  • Dispatchers completed 580 training hours;

Court Security:

  • 600 knives were found during screening, 33 razors, 108 scissors, two drug paraphernalia and 17 "other" weapons;
  • 56,917 people were screened and 19,478 items scanned.

Animal Control:

  • 45 animal bite cases
  • 465 cats adopted
  • 21 cats euthanized
  • 538 cats impounded
  • 233 dogs adopted
  • 16 dogs euthanized
  • 429 dogs impounded
  • 16 livestock cases investigated
  • 239 lost animal cases investigated

Genesee Justice:

  • In its 14th year;
  • 305 victims of serious and violent crimes served;
  • 18 compensation claims filed;
  • 28 clients assisted in family court;
  • 218 in-person counseling;
  • 782 phone counseling;
  • The Child Advocacy Center served 112 children in Genesee County and conducted 54 sexual abuse examinations, 84 forensic interviews, made 38 therapy referrals.
August 7, 2013 - 6:15pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in K-9, Sheriff's Office, K-9 Pharoah.

The Sheriff’s Office has a new K-9 team to replace current police K-9, Pharoah, and his handler, Deputy Brian Thompson. The 11-year-old Czech German Shepherd is retiring and his handler is relinquishing his K-9 assignment after 13 years to return to road patrol.

Thompson has nothing but praise for Pharoah, whom he described as a great tracker, good with children and an excellent drug-detection dog.

“Pharoah is an awesome dog and you would never know that he’ll be 12 in the fall,” Thompson said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the County's Public Service Committee approved $13,346 for a new police K-9, training for a new K-9 handler and additional equipment and supplies. The funds come from money donated to the Genesee County K-9 Fund, as well as funds from Forfeiture of Crime Proceeds.

The K-9 team is used for search and suspect apprehension, locating missing persons including missing children and Alzheimer patients, contraband and drug searches, tactical tracking, evidence recovery, building searches, patrol, and public presentations. 

Pharoah began working with Thompson in November 2010 and was donated by Niagara Falls Police Department. He is certified in patrol, tracking, handler protection, narcotics detection, building searches and apprehension. Pharoah and Thompson will work until the dog and handler are trained and ready to take over.

“Training lasts for 15 weeks, from September to December,” Thompson said.

Pharoah's retirement will be spent with the Thompson family.

May 14, 2013 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

The Sheriff’s Office will participate in the statewide seat belt enforcement mobilization, which will run from May 20 through June 1, which is designed to further improve highway safety. The initiative will urge motorists to buckle their safety belts or face receiving a ticket. The message is simple: “Click It or Ticket." The Buckle Up New York “Click It or Ticket” enforcement and education initiative sends a clear message that seat belts and child safety seats save lives. New York State has been a leader in passenger safety restraint since enacting the very first seat belt law in the country in 1984 by utilizing efforts that combines public education with increased police enforcement of New York’s seat belt law.

Under New York State law, safety restraint use is required for: all front seat occupants regardless of age; all rear seat passengers under 16 years of age; children under age 4 who must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat. New York’s zero-tolerance policy for seat belt violations means that violators will receive a ticket if stopped for not using a safety restraint. The fine for such violations is up to $100 if a motorist is stopped for having a person less than 16 years old unrestrained, plus 3 points on their license.

According to state law, motorists can be stopped in New York by a police officer for not wearing their seat belts; another violation is not necessary to initiate the stop. Properly secured children will be a priority for the Sheriff’s Office during this enforcement effort. If there is any question as to the proper installation of your child’s safety seat, call the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office at 585-343-5000 to set up an appointment to have your safety seat and its installation inspected by a certified technician. Please help us make the highways of Genesee County the safest they can be.

April 22, 2013 - 10:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Sheriff's Office.

Tom Rivers is publishing a series of stories for OrleansHub.com about grand buildings in Western New York that were built with Medina sandstone.

Today: The beautiful building at 14 West Main Street that was once the Sheriff's Office and is now home to Genesee Justice and connected to the jail.

April 18, 2013 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

The county's 22-year-old emergency communication system is antiquated and flawed, according to Sheriff Gary Maha, which is why the county receiving more than $7 million in grants to help pay for a new system is a welcome turn of events.

The county has wanted to upgrade the system for a few years, but the project is expensive.

In all, between the grants and a $4.2 million county bond, more than $10.8 million will be spent on the new system.

"The low-band paging system is antiquated," Maha said. "I don't know if you ever listen to some of these monitors that the firemen are carrying, but you can hardly hear them at times, especially on the outskirts of the county. We've been working on it for years and finally we got a revenue source through the state and NextTel to put toward this project."

The state grant of more than $5 million is coming through the Department of Homeland Security and the FCC is requiring NexTel to help pay for rebanding of 800 MHz systems where their communication system conflicts with emergency communication systems.

Still, the county will need to borrow $4.2 million to pay for the entire system.

"We've been working with a system for the last 22 years where we have limited coverage," said Steve Sharpe, director of emergency communications. "What we're trying to do is capitalize on the reconfiguration and the grant, combining all these funding resources together to build out a system that meets our public safety needs for our responders in the field.

"That's the end goal because this isn't just about the 800 MHz; it's also about VHF high band paging. We're trying to build a more reliable paging network for our responders, especially our fire and EMS folks. At the end of the day it's about life safety."

On Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee passed a series of resolutions that authorize the county to proceed with the upgrades, from accepting the grants, to issuing the bands and approving a contract with Harris Corporation, out of Rochester, to build the new system.

A key factor behind the availability of Homeland Security funds for the project is the push to build a nationwide 800 Mhz channel that all responders can share regardless of jurisdiction or agency in an emergency.

Use of the inter-operable channel in Western New York is being held up, at least in part, by Genesee County, because the county is using the 800 MHz band specified for the channel.

This project will move that portion of the county's emergency communication off that band to another band.

Part of the upgrade project is to build three new radio antenna towers in the county.

There are three now: Cedar Street (pictured), Pavilion and Pembroke. 

The Sheriff's Office is looking at potential new locations in Darien, Bergen and Alabama.

All of these changes of course, will effect the hundreds of county residents who regularly monitor scanner channels.

Residents with analog scanners will need to buy new scanners and have them programmed to the correct channels. 

Public use of scanners is a benefit to local law enforcement, Maha said, and the new system's ability to encrypt transmissions will be used only when necessary.

"We will have encryption available, but it's not our intent to be on encryption all the time," Maha said. "There may be times when we need to go on encryption, but people out there who have scanners will be able to continue listening to the day-to-day activities."

People with scanners, Maha said, help solve crimes.

"We're few and far between out there," Maha said. "We need all the eyes we can possibly have. If we have a bank robbery, we put that information out over the air so some citizen down the road may see the vehicle we want and can call 9-1-1. It's a benefit to us to have the people out there watching. They're our eyes and ears out there."

April 15, 2013 - 10:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Sheriff's Office.

In the first quarter of 2013, felony investigations in Genesee County have increased 71 percent over the same period in 2012, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Maha delivered a report today to the Legislature's Public Service Committee.

The increase (52 cases up to 89) seems to be the result of more burglary and grand larceny reports.

There have also been more sex-related criminal reports.

For the office of investigations, there's also been a significant increase in pistol license background checks.

For the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, the most prevalent drugs seen locally are cocaine and marijuana, but there has also been an ongoing increase in the possession and sale of prescription medications, particular hydrocodone and OxyContin.

For road patrol, deputies responded to 7,032 incidents during the quarter. That's a 10-percent hike over 2012.

However, 9-1-1 calls dropped 11 percent year-over-year to 6,033.

Non-9-1-1 calls are up 10 percent to 30,472.

At the same time, the jail population has dropped from an average of 76 inmates to 72, though the female population has increased from 12 to 15.

The Sheriff expects the Commission of Correction to recommend adding seven corrections officers (which includes two supervisor positions).

More female inmates, since they must be housed at facilities in neighboring counties, could add $150,000 in expenses.

Genesee Justice currently has a caseload of 594. There were 203 new case files opened in the first quarter, compared to 214 a year ago.

The Child Advocacy Center handled 65 new cases, compared to 57 a year ago.

For Sheriff's Office administration, the Sheriff continues to work on fundraising for a new K-9. The villages of Bergen and Oakfield renewed their patrol contracts.

Maha anticipates a need for more seasonal deptuties to handle the Darien Lake concert series.  Last year, there were 10 positions. He's requesting 15. Darien Lake reimburses the county for the cost of these positions.

February 21, 2013 - 10:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press Release:

Genesee County will receive $5,435,095 in grant funding from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Interoperable Communications to upgrade the county’s 800 MHz Public Safety Radio System. Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock was notified of the grant award in a letter dated Feb. 4, 2013, from the New York State Division of Homeland Security.

The funding will be used to upgrade the County’s Public Safety Radio System from an analog system to an interoperable digital system. Sheriff Gary T. Maha stated, “The upgrade is necessary to accommodate public safety radio coverage needs, radio tower sites, radio infrastructure, first responder notifications and subscriber radios. There have been some deficiencies in our current radio system which must be corrected.”

The grant funding is part of the $102 million recently awarded to counties through the Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant Program.  Genesee County’s application for this grant funding was submitted by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

The Genesee County Legislature Ways and Means Committee, during its meeting on Feb. 20, 2013, recommended establishing a capital project for the radio system upgrade.

February 20, 2013 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, K-9 Pharoah.

Press release:

Sheriff Gary T. Maha announces that K-9 Pharoah will be retiring at the end of 2013. K-9 Pharoah is 11 years of age and has been working with Deputy Brian Thompson since November 2010. Deputy Thompson will be relinquishing his K-9 duties at the end of the year as well. Deputy Thompson has been the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer for the past 13 years.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has been able to maintain a K-9 team for the past 13 years with support and donations from the public along with county funding. Public support and donations are vital to the continuation of this worthwhile program and are used to pay for food, veterinary services, training, equipment, and other K-9 related expenses.

The K-9 team is used for search and suspect apprehension, locating missing persons including missing children and Alzheimer patients, contraband and drug searches, tactical tracking, evidence recovery, building searches, patrol, and public presentations.

The Sheriff’s Office will be selecting a new K-9 officer and will be searching for a new K-9. The cost for a police dog ranges from between $5,000 - $8,000 and a 15-week K-9 training course costs approximately $5,000.

The Sheriff’s Office is initiating a public fundraiser for a sustainable K-9 fund for the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. We need your support to continue with our K-9 program and are asking businesses, community organizations and individuals to make a tax-deductible donation to the “Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fund”, 165 Park Road, Batavia, New York 14020.

Photo submitted by Sheriff's Office.

February 20, 2013 - 11:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office will get five new patrol vehicles in 2013 and according to Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble the new vehicles will be bigger and safer than previous patrol vehicles.

For years, Ford's Crown Victoria has been the reigning queen of police patrol vehicles, but Ford has discontinued the Crown Vic. Last year the Sheriff's Office, like Batavia PD, acquired a souped-up Ford Taurus.

This year the Sheriff's Office is opting for an all-wheel-drive utility vehicle from Ford.

"We got the sedans last year and had some issues, so we think we might be better off with the utilities this year," Dibble said. "They sit up a little higher. They're easier for the guys to get in and out of. There's more space, more room in the back, obviously more cargo space. They do better on ice, and they'll have a longer life and higher trade-in value."

The $111,480 purchase price is accounted for in the county budget and the remainder of the $13,000 budgeted will be used to equip the vehicles for patrol work. The County Highway Department will mark the vehicles, which saves the county money.

The five utility vehicles are replacing five Crown Vics, one from 2008, two from 2009 and two from 2010.

On average, the vehicles have 130,000 miles on them, but miles driven doesn't account for all the wear on the engine from hours and hours of idling (police vehicles are rarely turned off).

The new patrol units are being purchased from the lowest bidder, Delacy Ford, 3061 Transit Road, Elma.

The old vehicles generated a total of $18,300 trade-in allowance.

January 4, 2013 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recently hired Joseph A. Corona to fill the position of Deputy Sheriff; a position that was left vacant by a Deputy Sheriff who retired on May 5, 2012.

Deputy Corona is a 2004 high school regents graduate from Brockport High School and completed a BOCES Outdoor Power and Marine Technology program. He has participated in several volunteer programs with the Brockport and Rochester Police Departments and also participated in an internship with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Corona was previously employed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and graduated in 2009 from the Detention and Removal Operations Basic Law Enforcement and the Detention and Removal Spanish Language Training Programs. 

He was designated as an Expert Marksman in the firearms course, received the Driver Training Award, and was recognized as an Outstanding Distinguished Graduate and an Outstanding Physical Fitness Graduate for his performances while in the Academy. Deputy Corona recently graduated from the Niagara University Law Enforcement Academy on December 21, 2012 and, again, received the academy’s Physical Fitness award. Joe is also a nationally certified Personal Trainer.

Sheriff Maha stated, “Deputy Corona has been participating in our 14-week field training program and is performing exceptionally well. He will be a great addition to our road patrol.”

December 14, 2012 - 8:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello, a 20-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, was named Officer of the Year today in a ceremony at the Park Road headquarters. Sanfratello, center above, with Undersheriff William Sheron and Sheriff Gary Maha, was honored for his work reorganizing and streamlining many of the operations associated with the records and civil office, road patrol and Darien Lake concert details.

Principal Financial Clerk Mary L. Hecht was honored with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award in the department for non-sworn members. Hecht received the award for her many years of diligent attention to the financial needs of the jail bureau. According to the award statement, Hecht frequently assists jail staff and the administration with tasks that go well beyond her listed duties to ensure the smooth running of the facility.

Deputy Matthew Butler and Le Roy Police Officer Emily Clark were honored for their handling of a situation in the spring when an attempt by Butler to arrest a member of a family living on Maple Street led to other relatives allegedly intervening. Allegedly, a knife was held to the chest of Butler by one member of the family and Clark sustain a cut on her hand during the altercation. All suspects were subsequently taken into custody without any further injury to suspects or officers. Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble presents the award to Butler and Clark.

Below is a slide show of more pictures from the awards ceremony. To purchase prints of the pictures, click the "view gallery" link in the slide show. After the jump (click on the headline), is the press release from the Sheriff's Office followed by a copy of the text from each award presented today.

November 16, 2012 - 11:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

Sheriff Gary T. Maha announces that effective Saturday, Nov. 24, Sergeant Gregory Walker, a 25-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, will be assigned as Criminal Investigation Sergeant and will oversee the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Sergeant Walker started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in October 1987 as a deputy sheriff. He was promoted to investigator in 1994 and gained experience in drug enforcement. In 1997, he was promoted to sergeant and was assigned as a road patrol supervisor. Sergeant Walker is a 2006 graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy. 

Sheriff Maha also announces the promotion of Deputy Ronald Meides to sergeant, effective Nov. 24. Sergeant Meides will be assigned as a road patrol supervisor.

Deputy Meides started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in March 1991 as a correction officer. In 1993, he was appointed a deputy sheriff and assigned to road patrol. Deputy Meides was the Sheriff’s Office “Officer of the Year” in 2009 and was recognized by the Kiwanis Club of Batavia in 2011 for his law enforcement service. Deputy Meides has vast experience in road patrol operations and D.W.I. enforcement.

November 15, 2012 - 7:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Genesee County Jail.

For 35 years Bob Zehler has enjoyed his work and his coworkers, but the time has come to hang up his badge, he said.

"I'm not quite ready, but now is the time to get out while I still like the place," Zahler said.

Today, in the basement of the jail, coworkers, colleagues and friends gathered for lunch and cake to celebrate Zahler's career.

Many years ago, the Sheriff's Office switched from hiring deputies to work in the jail to hiring corrections officers. Zahler, a supervisor, is the last deputy sheriff to work in the jail.

As for retirement, the Bethany native said he'll spend more time with his 87-year-old mother, complete remodeling his home -- a project he started 20 years ago -- and take care of some neglected work around the family farm.

With Zahler, left in the photo, is the current director of the jail, Ed Minardo.

November 13, 2012 - 5:54pm

There are children in our community who need winter jackets and the Justice for Children Advocacy Center, along with the Sheriff's Office and Olympia Sports are teaming up to request donations from people in the community for new or slightly used coats and jackets.

The group is seeking donations from Nov. 14 through 30 for coats and jackets for children of all sizes.

Donations can be dropped off during normal business hours at the Sheriff's Office, 165 Park Road, Batavia. Donors will receive a 10-percent-off coupon from Olympia Sports.

Photo: Stacey Bauer, left, district sales manager for Olympia Sports, Undersheriff Bill Sheron, Grace Flannery, CAC, Shannon Ford, Genesee Justice and Anne Bezon, CAC.

October 23, 2012 - 12:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

After more than 20 years with the Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Steve Mullen, head of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, retired Friday.

Sheriff Gary Maha announced the retirement today.

Mullen has taken a job as a private investigator.

For nearly two years, Mullen has been talking about retirement. As one of the department's lead investigators, Mullen worked cases day and night, weekdays and weekends.

"I'm looking forward to a more routine schedule," Mullen said. "I will have more time to spend with my wife and kids.

"I'm just excited to get into something different," Mullen added.

At the supervisor level within the Sheriff's Office, turn over is traditionally low and Mullen said he also wanted to step aside and give an opportunity for somebody to move up.

"There's a lot of good people in the department who deserve the opportunity," Mullen said.

Maha has not yet announced a replacement or how a promotion would be handled.

Typically, the head of the task force is somebody who is a supervisor within the Sheriff's Office. The task force is comprised of members of law enforcement from the Sheriff's Office, Batavia PD and Le Roy PD.

Mullen has been lead investigator on some of the county's biggest drug cases over the past few years, including a series of meth lab busts from 2009 until 2011, and the arrest of Carlos Torres as well as a number of small-time drug dealers. All of Mullen's arrests during that time have stood up in court.

Mullen also handled other major felony investigations and some fatal accident investigations.

One of the biggest cases under Mullen's supervision was the arrest of two city firefighters and a state employee for allegedly operating a sports book. That case is still pending and the defendants are scheduled to appear in Batavia City Court this afternoon.

August 5, 2012 - 10:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, Sheriff's Office.

Press Release:

Genesee County Undersheriff William A. Sheron, along with thirty-six undersheriffs from across New York State, recently attended a training conference at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Sponsored and organized by the New York State Sheriffs' Association and the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, the program provides the undersheriffs with training in the latest advances in law enforcement and correctional practices and a forum to discuss current law enforcement issues and share best practices.

Representatives of several New York State agencies, including the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Division of Criminal Justice, the Department of State, and the Comptroller’s Office, met with the group.

Topics covered at the three-day program included: discovery rules for police in a high-tech environment, next generation 911 issues, and updates on homeland security labor laws, foil law, retirement law,  and personnel and budget issues.

“The undersheriff is appointed by the county sheriff and most often functions as the chief administrative officer,” said Sheriffs’ Association President and Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith. “In this role, undersheriffs review all operations of the sheriff’s office, including the sheriffs’ road patrol and investigative divisions, the county jail, the civil law enforcement division, court security, and 911/communications and dispatch division,” he said.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation, formed in 1934, for the purpose of assisting sheriffs in the efficient and effective delivery of services to the public. It comprises all of the elected and appointed sheriffs of New York State.  The Sheriffs’ Association is committed to providing education and training to advance the professionalism of all aspects of the office of sheriff. Visit www.nysheriffs.org.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Inc. was established in 1979. The mission of the Institute is to assist the office of the sheriff in advancing education in the criminal justice community, preventing juvenile delinquency, developing lawful and productive citizens, and supporting victims of crime and their families. Visit www.nysheriffsinstitute.org

Photo:  Genesee County Undersheriff William A. Sheron (center), upon completion of the 26th Annual Undersheriffs’ Training Program, with New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute Executive Director Chris O’Brien (left), and New York State Sheriffs’ Association President and Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith. (right).

August 3, 2012 - 6:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

In an effort to better serve and protect the citizens of Genesee County, Sheriff Gary T. Maha in conjunction with more than 30 county sheriffs and the New York State Sheriffs’ Association are offering the Yellow Dot Program.

Yellow Dot is a free program available to individuals of all ages that was designed to help first responders provide lifesaving medical attention during the first “golden hour” after a crash or other emergency.

The program has launched in 30 counties across the state.

“When you can’t speak for yourself, Yellow Dot can speak for you,” said Peter Kehoe, executive director of the sheriffs’ association.

The Yellow Dot kit contains a medical information card and a Yellow Dot decal. Participants complete the card, attach a recent photo, place it in the glove compartment of their vehicle, and place the Yellow Dot decal on the rear driver’s side window.

First responders arriving at the scene of an emergency will be alerted by the Yellow Dot decal to look for the medical information card in the glove compartment.  

To obtain a Yellow Dot kit, contact Carolyn Della Penna at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office at 345-3000, ext. 3510, or visit www.nysheriffs.org/yellowdot.

Yellow Dot materials will also be available at Genesee County fire departments.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Inc., is a not-for-profit corporation, formed in 1934, for the purpose of assisting sheriffs in the efficient and effective delivery of sheriffs’ services to the public. It comprises all of the elected and appointed sheriffs of New York State.

Yellow Dot was started in Connecticut in 2002 by People’s United Bank. Originally developed for senior citizens, the program can be used by anyone of any age.

July 13, 2012 - 7:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, pets, Sheriff's Office, animal control.

Some owners get angry when pulled out of a store because somebody complained about their dog being left in a hot car.

"Most do not even recognize it as abuse at all," said Animal Control Officer Aggie Jaroszewski. "They get mad because we interrupted their shopping day. They say we don't know what we're talking about. Their dog is OK."

When it's 85 degrees out, the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes and within 30 minutes it can exceed 120 degrees.

A dog can suffer brain damage or die in short order when temperatures exceed 107 degrees.

Leaving a dog in the car on a hot or very cold day violates Article 26, Section 353d of the NYS Agriculture and Markets Law.

A person shall not confine a companion animal in a motor vehicle in extreme heat or cold without proper ventilation or other protection from such extreme temperatures where such confinement places the companion animal in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury due to exposure to such extreme heat or cold.

Fines range from $50 to $100 for a first offense, from $100 to $250 for a second.

Jaroszewski said citations are generally only issued where an order cannot be located and the dog must be removed from the car and taken to an animal hospital, or when the dog is in obvious distress and must be removed from the car.

Since Jaroszewski is not a deputy, she relies on sworn officers to open cars and issue citations as necessary.

The first order of business is the health and safety of the animal, Jaroszewski said. Whether she responds first or a deputy, the first responder tries to locate the owner of the car. Typically, the owner is paged in the store they have most likely entered.

If the owner is found and the dog is not in distress, they are given a stern lecture and the incident is documents in the law enforcement computer system. The temperature at the time of the incident is also recorded.

Jaroszewski is looking into getting a laser temperature gun (example). That would enable her to point the laser at a surface in the car and get a precise reading of the temperature inside.

Not only would it give her evidence to show a dog owner of just how hot it is in the car, but with a second witness, any citation would have a better chance of holding up in court.

Today, The Batavian drove out to two calls involving dogs left in a car at a time when the sun was beating down and the temperature was 92 degrees.

Our initial headline on the first case was "Dog sweltering in gray TrailBlazer in Walmart parking lot."

It turns out, and what the initial caller may not have realized, the owners left their SUV running with the air conditioner on. The dog was fine, but Deputy Tim Westcott still tracked down the owners inside Walmart because it's a violation of NYS law to leave an unattended vehicle running.

The owners are visiting from Florida and vowed not to leave their dog in their car again and not to leave the vehicle running while unattended. No citation was issued.

In the second case, Wescott located the owners shopping in Michael's. The soon-to-be-married couple left the back windows down on their sedan, and the front windows cracked. During the 10 minutes they told Wescott they were in Michael's, the dog did her job, protecting her master's property by barking at every passerby.

But barking dogs, Westcott noted, dissipate energy faster and that makes them more susceptible to the heat.

In a day and age when more people are aware of the dangers to animals left in cars and everyone has a mobile phone, emergency dispatchers get more calls for dogs left in cars, Wescott noted.

And he wasn't complaining.

The Sheriff's Office takes such calls seriously and if an owner can't be located, deputies will use their car-lock kit to open doors and remove animals.

When that happens, Wescott said he leaves his business card in the car with a note about where the dog was taken.

Typically in such situations a citation is issued.

The more frequent, quicker calls these days probably mean there is intervention by a deputy or animal control officer before a dog is overheated to the point of injury or death.

While dog owners often feel put out by a member of law enforcement paging them in a store, and often claim it was just a matter of minutes that the dog was left alone, typically when paged, as with the couple in Michael's today, they're still in the middle of shopping when located.

With the engaged couple today, Wescott waited for Jaroszewski to arrive, which took about five minutes.

When she did, she lectured the couple on the danger they put their pet in, gave them an informational card that explains the danger. While the couple got back into the car (it took a little time because one of them was in a wheelchair due to a leg injury), she took the dog over to a shaded area (top photo) and waited.

The dog was panting heavily, but otherwise seemed in good health.

And a dog who can go home in good health is the whole goal of deputies or animal control officers who respond to the calls from concerned citizens.

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