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Committee backs relaxing of sheriff's deputies residency requirements to ensure adequate pool of candidates

By Mike Pettinella

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday threw its support behind a pair of local laws designed to relax residency requirements for the county’s seasonal and laterally transferring sheriff’s deputies.

County Attorney Kevin Earl, at the committee’s meeting at the Old County Courthouse, introduced resolutions calling for adoption of local laws that would supersede Section 3(1) of the New York State Public Officer Law.

Section 3(1) of the Public Officer Law states that no person shall be capable of holding a civil office, which includes deputy sheriffs, unless at the time he or she shall be chosen for employment they are a permanent resident of the political subdivision or municipal corporation of the state for which he or she shall be chosen (in this case, Genesee County).

In the area of seasonal deputies, Local Law Introductory No. 4, Year 2021 would expand the residency territorial area to include Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Livingston and Wyoming counties.

Seasonal sheriff’s deputies are defined as those hired for a fixed period of time not to exceed 90 days to work for a specific purpose, and must be fully trained with New York State Police Officer certification.

“A lot of this is driven by (Six Flags) Darien Lake needing additional employees,” Earl said.

Genesee County Undersheriff Brad Mazur said that permanent county sheriff’s deputies would be considered first for seasonal security work at Darien Lake, followed by seasonal deputies who live in Genesee County.

“Then, if we still couldn’t fill it, we would go outside to the contiguous counties,” he said, adding that two or three City of Batavia Police officers provided coverage at the theme park last year.

All costs for these seasonal deputies are covered by Darien Lake, Mazur said.

Concerning lateral transfers, Local Law Introductory No. 5, Year 2021 would expand the permanent residency requirement timeframe for a lateral police officer transfer to a Genesee County deputy sheriff position “to ensure an adequate pool of qualified applicants” by giving transfers six months after their hiring date to find a home in Genesee County.

Qualifications include current employment as a fully trained and certified police officer in New York and meeting all requirement of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Earl said that the mandate to reside in Genesee County within six months would be a condition of the deputy’s employment, meaning that the deputy could be fired outside of an arbitration process if the requirement is not met.

Previously, the county stipulated that transferring officers had to live in Genesee for two months before beginning employment.

Both Local Laws require public hearings, which have been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Old County Courthouse.

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