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March 11, 2014 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Sheriff's Office, Destro, K-9 fund, Chris Erion.

Destro will do just about anything to get permission for a minute or two of play time while on the job -- sit and stay, chase a bad guy, search for a human scent, bark at a cornered criminal, find some dope.

If he were in the wild, it would be like any dog catching a rabbit and having a bit of fun with it before it became a snack. That's what dogs do, Deputy Chris Erion explained to a group of seventh- and eighth-grade students during a seminar on law enforcement at the 26th annual Genesee County Youth Conference at GCC.

Erion put Destro through his paces demonstrating common dog tricks such as sit, down and stay, and then had Destro chase after him a few feet and then bark at him as if he were a fleeing criminal suspect. Destro then found a marijuana sample hidden in the room.

After each task, Destro got to play with a tug with a small rubber ball attached, or he got to chew on his favorite toy -- an old piece of fire hose.

Erion recounted one of Destro's greatest law enforcement feats yet, finding a post-it note that had been used in an alleged armed robbery. The job well done really demonstrates Destro's ability to pick up human scents, Erion told the students.

After the demonstration, Erion shared information about a new Facebook page set up by the children of Deputy Brian Thompson to help raise funds to support the K-9 program.

"The care and maintenance for a police K-9 is above what it typically is for a household pet," Erion said. "Their teeth have to be regularly maintained. Often they break teeth -- he's broken a couple of teeth already that had to be fixed -- care, feeding, all those sorts of things go into the K-9 fund to support the dog."

There isn't a specific budget amount the K-9 fund is trying to raise. The goal is to maintain an ongoing source of revenue to help take care of Destro and Pharoah, who retires in October, when Thompson retires, though Erion believes it would be a good idea to maintain a fund balance of $5,000 to $10,000.

"Then, if something were to happen, we could handle that immediately," Erion said. "We could put a new dog and handler into the field immediately."

The Facebook page was set up by Thompson's daughters Olivia and Sophia. They also came up with the idea of an envelope fundraiser. People can send a message through Facebook requesting an available envelope -- once a numbered envelope is taken and returned, it's counted as "filled," so you'll need to pick a different number -- and they will receive the requested envelope to fill with a donation and return.

The goal is to raise $10,000. According to the page, $2,000 has already been raised.

"If you think about it, the only life (Thompson's) children have known is life with a police K-9," Erion said. "He's worked K-9 his entire career with the Sheriff's Office and before that. It's part of their life, just having a police K-9 in the house, and they came up with an idea for a fundraiser. I just think it speaks volumes about their character and Brian's character to have that thought to do that."

Since becoming a K-9 officer, Erion said he's really learned a lot about the generosity of the Genesee County community.

"This assignment has opened my eyes to a lot of good things in our community," Erion said. "There's a school right now (where) the whole school is working on a K-9 fundraiser and I've had other people approach me to find out how to go about raising funds."

Visit the Facebook page Genesee County NY K-9 Support and click "Like"

Above, Kyle Mott gets a chance to pet Destro.

December 27, 2013 - 1:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recently hired Andrew Hale to fill the position of Deputy Sheriff; a position that was left vacant by a Deputy Sheriff who was promoted to Sergeant earlier in the year.

Deputy Hale is a 2002 graduate of Batavia High School. Following high school, Deputy Hale enlisted in the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2006 and then continued his education, earning a bachelor of arts degree in History with a minor in Sociology from St. John Fisher College. Deputy Hale was previously employed by Fed Ex Express as a driver. Deputy Hale graduated from the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy at Niagara University on December 20, 2013. The keynote speaker at the graduation was the newly appointed Buffalo Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Resident Agent In Charge Michelle Spahn.

Sheriff Maha stated, “Deputy Hale 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 24, 2013 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Sheriff's Office, Destro.

"Destro" likes people. He likes the snow. His favorite toy is a piece of old fire hose. But don't let the puppy disposition of the 2-year-old German shepherd fool you. He's a trained police dog, capable on command of doing all the things police dogs do.

If you meet Destro, you're likely to make a new friend, but let him approach you. Just to be safe.

"He's good," said his new handler and partner in crime-fighting Deputy Chris Erion. "He gets on my nerves once in awhile and I get on his, but we're a good match. He works very well."

Yesterday was the first day on the job for the new K-9 team after Erion and Destro completed 15 weeks of K-9 police dog academy.

"We start with a brand new dog who has almost zero training and we start right from the beginning," Erion said. "That way we know how he's trained, how he learns certain things. If problems come up, we know how to correct them, so it's a lot of long classes."

The 15-week course covered training in the areas of building and open area searches, obedience, tracking, drug detection, and handler protection.

The hardest part of the training, Erion said was "just sticking to it and getting up every morning."

"I got up at 4:30 every morning to get to Canada by 7:30 and I didn't get up home (until) 6:30, 7 o'clock at night and then my kids and wife needed attention, too, so balancing all of that was a challenge."

Destro gets along well with Erion's four children, the deputy said. "And he's kind of brought new life to my old German shepherd. They run around outside and play. They get along very well."

Erion and Destro start their new career together just as the K-9 handling career of Deputy Brian Thompson comes to a close. Thompson and "Pharoah" still are available to handle calls and help with the new team's training, but in about 10 months "Pharoah" will be retired from active duty.

Erion said he's grateful to the community support to help keep the Sheriff's Office K-9 program going.

"This program is completely funded by the community and we're certainly grateful for that," Erion said. "I'm personally grateful for that. There's an expense that goes into training and maintaining the dog, and that comes from donations. Without that we wouldn't be able to support the program."

November 18, 2013 - 8:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Work is proceeding pretty much on schedule for the county's new emergency communication system and phase I should be up and running by the Feb. 10 deadline, Steven Sharpe told members of the Public Service Committee today.

The necessary equipment has been installed on the towers at Cedar Street and in Pembroke, and the Pavilion tower should be completed shortly.

The microwave-transmission system should be operational soon.

New radios have been installed in more than 200 town and county highway vehicles. Installation started today with Batavia Fire Department's mobile units and volunteer fire departments will start getting their new radios soon.

Sheriff Gary Maha also shared with the committee that Uniden announced over the weekend a new emergency frequency scanner that will be compatible the Phase II P-25 TDMA system being installed by Harris RF.

The new scanners from Uniden should solve the problem being faced by local media, off-duty emergency responders and others who need access to police and fire communications to help them serve the public.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg asked Maha if the media will have the same access to communications as under the current system and Maha said he believed media outlets would.

The new Harris system makes it easier for law enforcement to encrypt communications, but Maha said encryption will be limited to law enforcement situations and not widely or regularly used.

One hold up with getting equipment installed on the Pavilion tower has been negotiations with American Tower Asset, the company that owns the tower. American Tower apparently wanted a lease fee to have the equipment installed on the tower, but Sharpe believed the company had previously agreed to provide such access for free.

Today, Sharpe said, he obtained the public documents showing that American Tower agreed in 1998 to allow Pavilion fire and Genesee County public safety agencies to use the tower facility at no cost as a term of getting approval to build the tower.

The county is also planning to build -- as part of phase II -- towers in Darien, Bergen and Alabama.

The Darien tower installation was somewhat delayed a few weeks ago when prehistoric human artifacts were found at the site. Researchers have determined, according to Sharpe, that the site was neither a burial ground nor an encampment, but rather a place were items were discarded along a travel path.

Previously:

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.

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