The third meeting of the Batavia's Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group covered several topics related to the local criminal justice system, including:
Restorative Justice/Genesee Justice;
Implicit bias training;
The juvenile diversion program;
Procedural justice -- standards of conduct, community relations, and biases in policing.
Cathy Uhly, program coordinator for Genesee Justice (top photo) spoke about restorative justice.
In contrast to punitive justice, which doesn't take into account victims and ignores any possibility of rehabilitation, restorative justice gives an opportunity for crime victims to be heard so that criminals might better understand the impact of their actions as well potentially make amends or pay restitution. It also offers offenders an opportunity to reform and become productive members of society.
Genesee Justice was the first county-level restorative justice program in the nation, was started in 1980 by then-Sheriff Douglas Call, former probation officer Dennis Wittman, and former County Court Judge Glen Morton.
Genesee Justice represents criminal victims, supervises accused criminal defendants prior to sentencing, manages DWI convicts going through the conditional discharge program, and conducts a judicial diversion program.
Julie Carasone, a certified trainer who will conduct an implicit bias seminar for Batavia police officers in December, gave a brief overview of the training course she will present.
Implicit bias is a bias a person might possess and be unaware of it. The course Carasone teaches involves exercises to help people learn both how biases affect their perceptions and judgments and the roots of such biases.
The course also touches on cognitive biases such as confirmation bias and the halo effect.
A confirmation bias is the tendency of people to seek out information that confirms what they already believe and dismisses information that contradicts their beliefs. The halo effect is attributing abilities or attributes to a person for no other reason than appearance, speech, or past performance.
Her training also covers institutional, structural, and historic racism.
Paula Campbell, an attorney in the County Attorney's Office who works in Family Court, spoke about current diversion programs designed to help young people from getting caught up in the justice system and learning to cope with any problems they might have.
Programs include PINS (person in need of supervision), youth court, family court, and programs for youths determined to be juvenile delinquents.
What program a youth enters depends on age, the severity of any behavioral issues of criminal conduct, and past record.
Anybody in the community can refer a youth to probation for consideration of possible intervention if that person has had harmed by a youth. Most commonly, referrals come from parents, schools, or police.
In youth court, young people act as the judge, attorneys, and jury to help deal with minor youthful offenses. It is the offender's peers who decide the best course of action to help correct a wrong or put youth on a more productive path.
Chief Shawn Heubusch spoke about police department policies that deal with procedural justice. These policies include standards of conduct, community relations, and bias in policing. These policies cover ethical behavior, building connections with community members, and avoiding prejudice in professional decision making.
It's now a felony in New York for a police officer to use a chokehold that results in the serious injury or death of a person, but Batavia police officers who have come through the academy in the past 10 years haven't even learned that maneuver, Chief Shawn Heubusch told the city's stakeholders' group at Thursday's meeting.
Since officers aren't trained in the procedure, it isn't even mentioned in the city's use of force policy, Heubusch said.
The Batavia's Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group was formed in response to an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandating that all municipalities with a police force form a community-based group that reviews all of a police department's policies and procedures.
Chokeholds fell out of favor more than a decade ago, but their use declined steeply after New York legislators passed a law in the wake of the 2014 death of Eric Garner. He died in New York City while in police custody and restrained in a chokehold. Even while officers continued to restrain him, Garner warned them, "I can't breathe."
As a result, the State Legislature approved the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, making "aggravated strangulation" by a police officer a Class C felony punishable up to 15 years in prison.
While the city's use of policy is silent specifically on the use of a chokehold, it does allow a police officer to use any means necessary to protect his or her life or the life of another person if somebody is in imminent danger of being killed.
An officer, for example, fighting for his or her life, could use a chokehold.
"If the officer is in serious peril, you are going to do whatever you can to prevent yourself or somebody else from being killed," Heubusch said.
The use of force policy outlines when a police officer is authorized to employ a reasonable level of force in order to effect an arrest or protect him or herself or another person, up to the use of deadly force.
Reasonable, of course, is a subjective term but a 1989 Supreme Court decision, Graham vs. Connor, provides police with a method to evaluate reasonable use of force.
What is deemed reasonable? Basically, what any other typical officer would have done under a similar set of circumstances with the knowledge the officer had the time of the incident without the benefit of hindsight. In other words, if an officer has substantial reason to believe a subject has a weapon and is likely to use it, an action taken to neutralize the ability of the subject to use that weapon is reasonable, even if it turns out later the subject didn't have a weapon.
"No policy can possibly predict every situation a police officer will face," Heubusch said. "We can't reasonably think of everything and put in a policy when there is so much judgment involved in every single action an officer takes on a daily basis."
While an officer wants to avoid or minimize the use of force, nothing in the law or policy requires an officer to retreat (unlike a civilian in a public place) in the face of a threat.
When an officer uses unreasonable force, his or her fellow officers have a duty to intervene, and a duty to report under Federal law and local policy.
"We've always had a duty to intercede in our policy," Heubusch said.
Use of force can be authorized to try and capture a fleeing criminal suspect but again, sometimes the use of force is reasonable, and sometimes it isn't. An officer wouldn't use the same force to apprehend a shoplifter that he would for a bank robber. The officer must also evaluate whether the subject is a physical threat to other people.
It's never acceptable to fire a weapon at a moving vehicle. Unlike the movies, it's rarely effective and it's a danger to others.
Deadly force is only authorized when the officer or another person is in imminent threat of death or serious injury. Imminent doesn't mean immediate, Heubusch said.
"If you point a gun at me I don’t have to wait for that trigger to be pulled," Heubusch said. "It doesn’t matter if the gun is loaded or not. We don’t have to find out if there are actually bullets in the weapon."
Anytime any level of use of force is deployed, Heubusch said, the officers must complete a report, which is another reason officers, he said, would rather avoid the use of force if at all possible.
The report is reviewed by supervisors. The information can sometimes help identify training needs and corrective measures and in rare circumstances result in disciplinary action.
"Officers hate paperwork and when they use force, they have to report it every time they wrestle with somebody," Heubusch said.
Heubusch said the use of force reports are not public even though New York recently repealed the law, Civil Rights Law 50a, which used to make records private used to evaluation police officer performance.
The reports are apparently not aggregated into any kind of statistical table.
Committee members wanted to know more about how the police department handles complaints about the possible use of force violations, particularly what protections are in place to protect an officer who cites a possible violation by a fellow officer.
Some committee members wanted to know just how thick that "thin blue line" is that supposedly protects police officers from being reported by fellow officers.
Heubusch said the department does have a whistlerblower policy that protects employees who file complaints but also noted, it's a small department -- only 33 officers on the force -- so it's hard to remain anonymous.
That being said, Heubusch added, "supervisors know what their job is. They are not going to put their careers on the line. It's their job and their living on the line. I think our officers are comfortable coming forward if they run into a situation. I have yet to uncover a problem of an officer reporting something to a supervisor."
Public Defender Jerry Ader
Top photo: Chief Shawn Heubusch
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The first meeting of Batavia's Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group was largely informational, with most of the conversation led by Police Chief Shawn Heubusch on the history of policing, police training, and an introduction to the department's use of force policy.
Some members of the group asked questions or offered a short comment.
City Attorney George Van Ness led off the discussion with an overview of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order mandating such review committees -- called "stakeholder groups" -- for all municipalities in the state that operate a police agency.
The group is charged with reviewing all local police policies and procedures and making suggestions for possible revisions. The plan that comes out of the group's work will be forwarded to the City Council. The plan will be subject then to public input and comment. The council will be expected to review and potentially approve the plan. Once certified, the plan will be sent to the state's Office of Management and Budget.
The executive order states municipalities that fail to follow through by April 1 could lose state funding.
For more on the composition of the group, which is comprised of city officials, community members, and subject-area experts, click here.
The Evolution of Policing
Recalling policing's evolution, Heubusch started with officers walking the beat on night patrol in big cities checking that buildings were secure and dealing with vagrants and drunks. Soon, officers took on the job of investigating crimes. Then when cars became common, police officers were charged with traffic enforcement, with a later emphasis catching people driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
In the 1990s, there was a big push for officers to deal with domestic violence, including mandatory arrests in some situations. Modern departments also employ officers to deal with juveniles. In the late 1990s, the war on drugs started and officers put more emphasis on finding people selling or taking drugs and arresting them. Now, officers put more emphasis on getting drug users into rehabilitation.
In Genesee County, police officers assist Genesee Justice with curfew checks.
Community policing has always been a part of a police officer's job, Heubusch said. Since he became chief in 2014, he started a community outreach committee in the department that looks for ways to connect police officers with community members. Programs include shop-with-a-cop, coffee-with-a-cop, and foot patrols.
Police officers also need training in dealing with mental health issues and conflict de-escalation.
More recently, police officers are called on to enforce pandemic-related regulations and quarantine violations.
And nearly all those police activities have corresponding paperwork for the officer to complete.
"That's kind of what modern policing looks like," Heubusch said. "It's a lot. It's one of the reasons going through the academy these says is so long, because there's so much to learn."
Heubusch went through the academy more than 20 years ago when the required training took 600 hours. Now it's 800 hours.
Once an officer graduates from the academy, the officer is required to have 640 hours of field training.
Body Cams, Use of Force Policy, Job-related Stress
A member of the group asked about the use of body cams and Heubusch said since 2014 all officers are required to wear a body cam. Activating the device requires the officer to click a button twice and they are supposed to turn it on for every interaction with citizens with exceptions for emergencies that require quick action from the officer.
Asked if there is an issue with officers forgetting to activate the camera, Heubusch said there have been very few times where the department has needed to investigate a complaint or needed video footage for evidence and supervisors discovered the camera has not been activated.
While the chief discussed the policy briefly, group members are asked to read it before the next meeting, which will feature an in-depth discussion of the policy.
Heubusch noted that decisions about use of force are often split-second at best and in that time the officer must assess the threat level and what the legally appropriate amount of force is necessary to neutralize the threat.
"They have to use reasonable force given the circumstances right in front of them at that moment in time," Heubusch said.
To help officers be better prepared in stressful situations, they go through from eight to 16 hours of reality-based training every month.
Batavia PD puts officers through more reality-based training than most small police departments, Heubusch said, because the training carries some small risk of officers getting injured since it's a physical activity.
Community member Billy Blackshear asked about stress levels police officers faced and where that factored into training.
Heubusch said in recent years, there's greater awareness about job-related stress in law enforcement. The things they see, the situations they deal with, can take a toll.
"That's one reason 20 years is long enough to be on the job," Heubusch said. "That stuff compounds."
When officers are dealing with stress, either because of something that happened on the job or in their personal life, they are taken off of street patrol, Heubusch said.
The Rigors of the Hiring Process
In response to a group member's comment, Heubusch said because of retirements, the current police office is comprised of nearly half of the officers being hired in the past two years. Some of those officers had prior experience, but the average age of the force now is somewhere around 24 or 25 years old.
YWCA Executive Director Millie Tomidy-Pepper asked if officers are subjected to a background check before being hired. That started a long discussion about how officers are hired.
The state's civil service law will only allow the department to consider the people with the top three scores on the civil service exam.
There are exceptions that allow the department to consider a lower-scoring candidate, such as a candidate withdrawing an application, but those exceptions are few. Only in recent years has a police chief had the option of passing over a candidate who failed a psychological exam.
There is a criminal background check but only a felony conviction is disqualifying.
The candidate must complete a 28-page background check questionnaire.
"You would be surprised how many candidates omit things that they don't think we'll find," Heubusch said.
A detective interviews each candidate. The background check includes contacting former employers and references as well as locating people the candidate didn't name as a reference. The neighborhoods where the officer once lived are canvassed for people who can share relevant information about the candidate. Former spouses and boyfriends or girlfriends are interviewed.
"Anybody we can speak to who can speak to the person's character, we want to talk with them," Heubusch said.
There is a credit history check and a social media check.
Then there is a psychological exam with a specialist in police officer duty in Rochester.
Then a panel interview.
Finally, the candidate must take a polygraph.
"If you don't pass the polygraph, you don't get a job offer," Heubusch said.
The whole process takes several weeks.
Victor Thomas, a community member and representative of Just Kings Social Club, said, "That sounds like a lot. It seems you almost have to be perfect to get a job." Then he got a laugh when he said, "I think you just explained to me why I didn't get in."
Heubusch said, "we're not looking for perfect people. We all have skeletons in our closets. What we're looking for are major issues."
The big problem with the process, Heubusch said, is the state law mandating the department to only consider the top three candidates from the civil service exam. There are often better candidates, including some from our local community, who are not among the top three scorers. He would like to see New York go to a system, like some other states, where the exam is "pass/fail," which would mean, perhaps, if 200 people took the exam, the police department could consider up to 100 candidates, including local candidates.
Community member Michael Henry asked if officers receive cultural awareness training. Heubusch said they do in the academy but he didn't have the curriculum with him.
Anibal Soler Jr., superintendent of Batavia City School District, noted that in none of the material provided to group members nor during the presentation was the issue of race mentioned and he suggested a discussion of race be included in any policy reform, training, and in hiring practices.
City Church Pastor Marty Macdonald took exception to a comment by Heubusch that suggested past behavior was predictive of how a person might do as a police officer. He spoke at length about the ability of people grow, learn and reform.
Heubusch said he agreed and said his comment was meant to refer to references from former employers.
Blackshear commended the chief for his foresight, mentioning he met with Heubusch some years ago, in addressing community issues and trying to reach young people, including trying to recruit young people to a career in law enforcement.
Beyond Diversity -- Doing the Job Correctly with Accountability
Brandon Armstrong, a small business owner and also a member of Just Kings, said he was going to bring up what he thought would be an unpopular opinion: That the big issue was not the diversity of police departments, but the inability of police departments or the justice system to punish police officers who don't do their job the right way. He noted that there have been black police officers accused of acting just as bad as white police officers in other jurisdictions.
"We do need diversity but if somebody isn't doing the job right, they need to better held accountable for it," Armstrong said. "I don't care what color they are."
The opinion wasn't unpopular at all. Other group members said they agreed and nobody disagreed.
As we approach the Fourth of July Independence Day Holiday, Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano of the City of Batavia Fire Department would like to remind the residents of the City of what sparkling devices are allowed by law.
“We want to ensure that our residents enjoy the holiday in a safe and responsible manner,” Napolitano said.
According to the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services "Sparking Devices" are considered, “ground-based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke.”
"These sparkling devices can only be bought and sold from June 1st to July 5th and from December 26th to January 1st in any given year," Napolitano said, furthermore, the law states that “Sales of sparkling devices by certified temporary stands or tents can only occur from June 20th to July 5th and December 26th to January 1st in any given year.”
According to the fire chief, allowable sparkling devices under the law are sparkling fountains, sparklers on wooden sticks (not metal sticks), smoking devices, snakes confetti-filled party poppers and paper-wrapped snappers. Non-allowable and illegal devices include firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and any other aerial devices.
As a result of COVID-19 canceling many public fireworks displays, Chief Napolitano recommends the following alternatives to celebrate the Fourth of July Holiday without fireworks. Furthermore, these alternatives are pet and children friendly.
Use glow sticks; they glow in the dark and are a safe alternative to a sparkler.
Use noisemakers; they can be found at a local party supply store.
Red, white and blue Silly String.
Outdoor movie night. Set up a television or screen and projector.
Make patriotic crafts with the family.
Lastly, Napolitano says it is important to take the necessary fire safety precautionary steps when using these devices. Last year there were 18,500 fireworks-related injuries reported in the United States.
If any resident has questions regarding what is allowable or would like information regarding safety precautions, they can call the City of Batavia Fire Headquarters at (585) 345-6375.
The City of Batavia Police Department is proud to introduce the newest member of the Department, K-9 “Hank,” with handler Officer Stephen Quider. “Hank” is a 1-year old Belgian Malinois/Shepard mix from Holland.
He was purchased from Upstate K-9 with asset forfeiture funding from the Department of Homeland Security Investigations in Buffalo. “Hank” and Officer Quider have begun their training in Monroe County. “Hank” will be trained as a dual-purpose Police K-9. He will be trained in narcotics detection, tracking and apprehension.
The Police Department conducted an initial fund-raising effort last year to help offset some of the costs associated with the program and received overwhelming support, raising more than $11,000 to date. All donations go toward food, toys and medicine to ensure “Hank” remains healthy and happy.
The Department continues to accept donations to assist in supporting the program, anyone wishing to donate can contact the City Police Department at (585) 345-6356.
Update 1:30 p.m.
The time for the media session on Thursday for K-9 Hank wlll be 3:30 p.m. at the rear of the City of Batavia police station.
Community residents have stepped up in thousands of ways to support the City of Batavia Police Department's K-9 program.
Actually, the number is $11,228.53, which is the total amount of the donations sent into the City after the program was established last August, with the stipulation that donatons would be accepted.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, lawmakers voted to place the contributions into a committed fund just to be used for K-9-related expenses.
Police Chief Shawn Heubusch told The Batavian that a press conference is being arranged for this Thursday at police headquarters to introduce Hank, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah), and his handler, Officer Stephen Quider, and to provide details about the program.
The Belgian Malinois is known as a hard-working, protective and smart breed with an ability to detect explosives, accelerants and narcotics. The name is derived from Malines, the French name for the breed's Flemish city of origin, Mechelen.
The male Malinois, which can weigh up to 75 pounds, is sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd.
Hank and Officer Stephen Quider attended last weekend's Juneteenth event at the YWCA of Genesee County.
“I jumped at the chance (to partner with the dog),” Quider said.
So, it looks as though the department's newest trainee is almost ready to em-“bark” on his journey to serve and protect.
In other action, Council:
-- Moved the bid process and determination for the Franklin Street-Richmond Avenue sewer rehabilitation project to its July 13th Business Meeting.
According to Public Works Director Matt Worth, the City will see significant cost savings by changing the focus from a complete sewer line replacement on Franklin Street to an excavated repair of one section and relining of the rest of the line, and then to include relining of the Richmond Avenue sewer ahead of its rehabilitation project in 2022.
“The original budget for this project was $1,048,596, including engineering costs,” Worth said, “but with the changes, the cost will be significantly lower even with the addition of the Richmond Avenue lining.”
Worth said engineering fees will drop from around $240,000 to $57,800 “due to the reduced effort required to design and inspect a lining project compared to full open construction with new sewer.”
He also said he expects the construction cost to be “well under” the original estimate of $806,000 when the bids are opened on July 2.
-- Voted to authorize Council President Eugene Jankowski to facilitate the acceptance of $16,000 from the Genesee County Youth Bureau to support the Liberty Center for Youth and City Summer Recreation Program.
-- Voted to appoint three City residents – Nicholas Harris, Marc Staley and David Leone – and two Council members – Robert Bialkowski and Jeremy Karas – to the Audit Advisory Board for a term ending Dec. 31.
CORRECTION: We previously published a picture taken June 6 of Officer Stephen Quider with a K9. It turns out that dog was returned and "Hank" is a different dog so we've removed the photo.
Due to the ongoing events that are unfolding across our country and within our region I have received questions about the Department's use of force policy and what is done to ensure that our police officers do not abuse their authority or use excessive force.
Attached is the Department's Use of Force Policy that every member of the City of Batavia Police Department receives training on annually. The policy adheres to all Local, State and Federal laws, guidelines and follows best practices. The policy puts human life above everything and ensures that every member has a duty to intercede in situations where the use of force of another officer is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances present at that time. Each situation is unique and officers are asked to make split second decisions to keep the public safe.
I am proud of each member of our Department, they discharge their duties in a professional, compassionate manner each and every day. Your police officers are well trained, well equipped, caring community-oriented individuals that work extremely hard to bring peace to chaotic situations and serve the public with the utmost. I am also very grateful for the community support that we receive from the vast majority of our residents and business owners. Together we make the City of Batavia a better place to live, work and play.
Retired dispatcher, who started his career with Batavia Police Department 30 years ago today, was honored by members of the force for his service to the department and continued support of its mission.
In an effort to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) the following precautions will be implemented at the City of Batavia Police Department, effective immediately:
Police Headquarters located at 10 W. Main St. will remain locked at all times. Anyone responding to the police station can utilize the phone in the vestibule, which will contact our dispatch center at all times.
If you are in need of a copy of a report please contact our Records Clerk at 585-345-6303 before responding to the Station, you will be given directions on how to proceed with your request at that time.
If you need to report a crime that has already occurred or simply want to speak with an officer, we ask that you contact our dispatch center at 585-345-6350. The dispatchers will obtain your information and an officer will be in contact with you as soon as possible.
If you have an emergency call 9-1-1 immediately and officers will be dispatched to you.
We ask that if you can do so to please meet the officers outside and speak with them rather than the officers coming into your home.
Officers will be practicing “social distancing” techniques as advised by the County’s Health Department.
These measures are to ensure that we can adequately respond to emergencies and to help safeguard both the public and the police officers from accidental exposure to the virus. Please see the Genesee County Public Health Department website for additional information about the COVID-19 virus.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these difficult days together. Rest assured the City of Batavia; the Police Department and its employees are ready to aid in any way possible to ensure that our community remains safe at all times.
Todd Crossett spent 22 years with the Batavia Police Department, most recently as assistant Chief of Police. He's retiring and taking a job at the VA Center. We spoke with him briefly at his retirement party today.
This morning at approximately 6:45 City of Batavia Police officers were dispatched to a report of a burglary alarm at a business in the Eastown Plaza. Two officers, in separate marked patrol cars, responded to the alarm and were traveling eastbound on East Main Street.
As the patrol car in the lead approached the intersection of East Main and Liberty Street, it entered the intersection with lights and sirens activated and had a steady green light. A vehicle traveling north on Liberty Street failed to stop for a steady red light and entered the intersection.
The officer attempted to avoid the vehicle but was unsuccessful.
The northbound vehicle struck the patrol car causing it to travel across the westbound lane and over the curb, striking a tree and coming to rest on the parkway and sidewalk area. The other vehicle then struck another uninvolved vehicle.
The officer operating the marked patrol car was taken to UMMC’s Emergency Room to be evaluated and was released with a minor injury. There were no other injuries reported as a result of the collision.
The accident is currently under investigation and we will advise of any charges.
A longtime Batavia resident is calling upon the City of Batavia to take responsibility for “destroying my home and hindering me mentally and physically” in the aftermath of Monday’s 20-hour standoff at his Liberty Street residence.
“I am a victim of this,” said David Zanghi, 66, who lives in the downstairs apartment at 209 Liberty St. “The only ones who caused damage to my house were the police. They were very non-caring.”
Zanghi was forced to evacuate his downstairs apartment when City Police responded to a domestic disturbance call around 1:18 p.m. Monday.
According to dispatch reports, the caller said an intoxicated male hit a female and was in possession of a sword.
When police arrived, they saw that the male, later identified as Daniel Wolfe, 45, had barricaded himself inside his apartment upstairs and began shooting at officers with a pellet (BB) rifle.
The standoff continued until around 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday, finally coming to an end when Wolfe exited the residence and surrendered to City Police Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora.
During the standoff, City Police were assisted by several other agencies, including the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; Orleans County SWAT; State Police troopers; negotiators; drone unit; K-9 unit; and SORT teams; the NYS DEC K-9 Unit; Monroe County Crisis Negotiating Team; Genesee County Emergency Management; Genesee County Dispatch Center; City Fire Department; and Mercy EMS.
Wolfe sustained self-inflicted injuries and was transported for treatment to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Currently, he is in Genesee County Jail.
While the suspect faces multiple charges, Zanghi, who is on dialysis waiting a kidney transplant and suffers from emotional and physical ailments, now is staying with a relative in the City due to the damage done to his residence.
“They destroyed my house … busted all the windows, my clothes are shot because of the tear gas. I may be able to get the couch fixed. It’s ridiculous what they did to me,” he said.
Zanghi reported that his landlord, Duane Preston, has promised him another apartment in mid-December.
“Duane has been good to me,” he said. “He even gave me my rent check back for the month.”
Zanghi also said that he is upset that no one from the City has contacted him about the possibility of receiving some victim assistance support, and plans to confront City Council and management at the next City Council meeting on Monday (Nov. 25).
City officials, however, did respond to a request from The Batavian for a comment in light of Zanghi’s grievances.
“While the City sympathizes with Mr. Zanghi as an innocent bystander to the events that unfolded Tuesday, November 18th, there is no specific assistance that the City can offer,” Assistant City Manager Rachael J. Tabelski said.
“In any type of emergency response situation there will be unintended consequences, however the city is not liable for the damage. There are many organizations and individuals that volunteer to help residents in need, and I am hopeful Mr. Zanghi will find relief through these individuals and organizations.”
Zanghi said that his sister, Mary Ellen Wilber, who splits her time between New Jersey and Batavia, will represent him at the meeting.
Contacted by phone this afternoon, Wilber said she is “disgusted” over the City’s lack of action despite being contacted numerous times about Wolfe’s violent behavior.
“I will be there to advocate for my brother, who has called police at least seven times over the past year, year and a half, about this guy,” she said. “He’s an alcoholic who has harmed the woman (girlfriend). All those times David called and it’s all for naught.”
Wilber said law enforcement’s actions have “traumatized” her brother, who is on a fixed income and under the care of the VA Medical Center.
“He had to go to the hospital to get his medicine because all of his pills, along with his clothes and bedding, were contaminated.
“They shot tear gas canisters into David’s downstairs apartment, knowing the guy was upstairs,” she said. “They destroyed his apartment.”
Wilber said she also questions the way the situation was handled and the cost to the City.
“I was told that the police said they were using this as a tactical exercise,” she said. “It should have never gone on this long. They could have used a Taser instead of attacking him with a dog. The cost to the City is going to be very high. They could have done things in a much better way.”
Photos by Howard Owens.
David Zanghi points to a window broken by police actions.
David Zanghi said a CS gas canister apparently exploded in his bedroom. He's pointing to all the medicine on his dresser that the VA had to replace for him. He said he has expensive suits, including a $1,500 tux, that now reek of tear gas and he's not sure they can be properly cleaned.
The Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has received an armored rescue vehicle from the U.S. Government’s 1033 program.
The program allows for departments across the nation to receive surplus military vehicles, for free, to use in special operations.
The vehicle received is called an MRAP, which stands for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected. The vehicle was designed to withstand improvised explosive devices and ambush attacks. Due to its larger size, heavyweight, and big tires, it is also a perfect vehicle to use during flood situations and natural disasters.
The departments will take possession of the vehicle today and will begin retrofitting it with the necessary equipment to include paint, decals, lights/sirens, seating, and communications to make it suitable for law enforcement use.
The departments plan to use the vehicle for a multitude of duties to include, rescue operations during floods or natural disasters and high-risk law enforcement activities such as active threats/warrant executions, throughout the county.
This new addition will allow the departments to provide better protection to citizens in natural disaster situations and also protect officers who are involved in higher-risk law enforcement activities.
The Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office are proud to have this vehicle which better prepares the City of Batavia and Genesee County for any threat, both natural and man-made.