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City of Batavia Police Department

Batavia superintendent issues message of safety to community

By Joanne Beck

Superintendent Jason Smith issued the following statement to the city school district Friday morning in response to a potential threat made to John Kennedy Intermediate School. The threat was found not to be credible, per Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch after an investigation by local law enforcement.

To Our BCSD Community, 

This morning, the Batavia Police Department received a call from an unknown person who was making threats against John Kennedy Intermediate. The Batavia Police Department, New York State Police, and Genesee County Sheriff immediately responded to John Kennedy to investigate, and they found no evidence of a credible threat. 

As an additional precaution, patrol units were sent to all BCSD schools to do a safety check.

BCSD is currently on February recess, and only a small number of staff members were present during the on-site investigation. No students were in the building at the time of the incident. 

While no credible threat has been found, the Batavia Police Department is continuing its investigation.

All sports practices, events, and club activities will continue as planned throughout the weekend, and BCSD will have increased police presence as a safety precaution. 

We will keep you informed as additional information becomes available. We thank the Batavia Police Department, State Police, and Genesee County Sheriff’s Department for their swift response as well as our John Kennedy staff for their ongoing assistance and cooperation.

Jason Smith, Superintendent 

City stabbing Tuesday night being investigated

By Press Release

Press Release

At roughly 9:38 pm on Tuesday October 18th the City of Batavia Police Department, City of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS were dispatched to Highland Park for a reported stabbing. Preliminary investigation reveals that the victim was stabbed somewhere on Jackson Street at roughly 9:30 pm.

The suspect is described as a black male wearing a white hooded sweatshirt. The victim was transported to a hospital where they are seeking medical treatment for their injuries.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Batavia Police Department at (585)345-6350, the Batavia Police Department's confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370 or by clicking the tip button

No further details will be released at this time due to this being an ongoing investigation. 


Reforming New York's bail reform laws: Desperately needed or a desperate attempt to win votes?

By Mike Pettinella

Depending upon who you talk to, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 10-point plan to revise New York’s bail reform statute is either a good first step toward granting judges more discretion in determining whether or not to impose bail for serious crimes or it’s simply a politically expedient move by someone looking to win an election in November.

In recent days, Hochul presented a comprehensive list of changes to the no-cash bail law, including, for the most serious felonies, allowing bail determinations to be informed by factors such as criminal history and history of firearm use and possession; making repeat offenses subject to arrest and posting of bail, and making some gun-related and hate crime offenses subject to arrest and incarceration (and not appearance tickets).

The proposal also is being made following the release of a Siena College poll indicating that two-thirds of New York voters are in favor of strengthening the no-cash bail law and giving judges the power to consider a defendant’s prior arrest record.

The Batavian reached out today to Genesee County attorneys and law enforcement personnel for their “takes” on the governor’s stance.

Genesee County District Attorney Kevin Finnell says he hasn’t read the details of all of Hochul’s points, but for the primary one – allowing judges to consider additional information – he believes that is appropriate.

“That’s what the judges were able to do pre-bail reform,” he said. “And I think giving them that latitude and authority is good because they're the ones that see these people, they evaluate them on a case by case basis, and the judges do a good job in deciding who's a flight risk and who isn't. So, having that back in the judges’ hands is a good thing.”

Finnell said he also agrees with judges having the ability to set bail on repeat offenders.

“Again, using the same criteria, assuming that they can, allow the judges to do what they've always done in evaluating the case -- the person and the likelihood that they'll return rather than just going to the least restrictive form automatically,” he said.

“That may be appropriate in a lot of cases and the judges will be able to still release people to under supervision or ROR (released on your own recognizance) when the case is appropriate. But giving them the extra tool -- the extra ability to set bail when appropriate -- I think is always a good thing.”

Genesee County Public Defender Jerry Ader sees Hochul’s plan much differently, stating that politics are playing a key role.

“I had hoped that the governor would have maintained her long standing position that any possible changes to the law as it related to bail would only be driven by data, not politics, and that gathering such data would take time,” he said. “Unfortunately, I am not shocked or surprised that political pressure has resulted in this new ‘re-election’10-point plan.  Maintaining power is powerful force.”

Ader pointed to The Brennan Center for Justice report, released yesterday, that “there is no clear connection between recent crime increases and the bail reform law enacted in 2019, and the data does not support further revisions to the legislation” (

“In our county, the bail laws presently in effect are working.  Money is no longer the driving factor as to whether someone charged with a crime is in jail.  Most people charged with violent felony offenses and many non-violent offenses can have bail set, if the court determines it to be necessary to insure the person appears,” he said. “If someone has been released, he can be remanded if he persistently fails to appear in court or is re-arrested for a felony.  There is no evidence that our county is any less safe.”

Ader acknowledged that gun violence is increasing, and he has “no problem with enacting new legislation or the state providing additional funding to help remove illegal weapons from our community. “

Calling Hochul’s plan “a step in the right direction,” Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron said that tougher gun laws are not the answer when dealing with the criminal element.

“I firmly believe that they can pass all these gun laws that they want, but the prime definition of “criminal” means criminals do not follow laws,” he said. “So, you can pass all the gun control regulations you want, but those with criminal intent are not going to follow those laws. The ones that are really going to be affected are the law abiding citizens.”

Sheron said laws with more teeth need to be passed.

“We have got to have more of a deterrence out there,” he said. “If people possess illegal firearms, or use a firearm illegally, they’re going to suffer severe consequences and that is going to send the message to other people.”

The sheriff also said he’s on board with giving judges more discretion in the bail process to prevent instances of repeat offenses, something that he says have been on the rise and are endangering the public.

“One that comes to mind is where the individual was stealing motor vehicles from around the area,” he said. “We would catch them with one, and he’d go before a judge and get released. It wasn’t a bailable offense and he’d steal another car. It was just a vicious circle. I forget the total number of vehicles he stole, but he knew there was no chance he was going to jail, so it was a big game to him.”

Sheron said society has gotten away from the “standards of accountability.”

“People make mistakes, I get that, but there has to be a deterrence. Even with kids in school. They see there are no consequences to their misbehavior or their improper actions, and that leads to more improper actions.”

Batavia City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said he hopes “changes are meaningful and will address crime in our area.”

He said he stands with the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, which issued a statement today contending that the state’s effort to correct “historic inequalities in the criminal justice system” … “tipped the balance so far in favor of the accused that public safety has been jeopardized.”

The statement continues, “We believe that it is possible to create a system in which the rights of the accused are respected while the rights of victims and the public are also respected. Public safety must be a priority. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and the legislature to identify the proper path forward.”

Heubusch said that “one size fits all packages coming out of Albany do not work in every jurisdiction and do not address the impacts to our neighborhoods and communities.”

“We are hopeful that meaningful change will be implemented to aid us in protecting our citizens.”

Finnell said local justices are qualified to make proper judgments, as long as they are given the power to do so.

“I also think recognizing that not everybody should go to jail is important, too,” he said. “That's the other side of the coin. The purpose of bail is and always has been to ensure that somebody will appear for when required in in County Court. But we've seen that fail in many ways since bail reform.”

Ader stated that he agrees with the governor on her call for increased funding for pretrial, diversion, and employment programs and for mental health treatment.

“It would also help our community immensely if the non-monetary release option of electronic monitoring could be implemented in our county.  It is an option under the present law but has never been used in our county,” he said.

Overall, he thinks Hochul’s 10-point plan is a “knee-jerk political reaction” that moves the state back to a more subjective and repressive system of bail.

“It may make some people feel better, but that’s not the reason for legislation,” he said. “Laws and changes to them need to be driven by data and facts, not emotion.”

The 10-point plan, per a published report in the New York Post, includes:

  • For the most serious felonies, allow bail determinations to be informed by factors including criminal history and history of firearm use and possession. Judges will be allowed to set bail not based solely on the “least restrictive” conditions deemed necessary to ensure a return to court. The statute will set forth specific criteria on which judges will base their determinations, including criminal history and history of firearm use/possession.
  • Make repeat offenses subject to arrest and bail-eligible
  • Make certain gun-related offenses, hate crimes offenses, and subway crime offenses subject to arrest and not [desk appearance tickets]. Certain offenses which presently are subject to desk appearance tickets will be made only eligible for arrest.
  • Make certain gun-related offenses bail-eligible.
  • Make it easier to prosecute gun trafficking.
  • Targeted reforms of the discovery statute.
  • Targeted reforms of the “Raise the Age” statute.
  • Increase funding for pretrial, diversion, and employment programs: Hochul’s budget already includes $83.4 million for pretrial services, but the governor would increase that amount — although the memo did not say by how much. It would also distribute the nearly $500 million appropriated for “Raise the Age” implementation that has not yet been spent.
  • Expand involuntary commitment and Kendra’s Law.
  • Increase funding for mental health treatment.

Attracting minority candidates, ongoing community dialogue top Batavia PD's list of 'action items'

By Mike Pettinella

The City of Batavia Police Department is committed to implementing “action items” derived from its participation in the Batavia Police Advisory Collaboration Stakeholder Group, especially in the area of diversity in recruitment, BPD Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said on Monday night.

Speaking at City Council’s Business Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room, Heubusch (photo at left) said his department embarked on a “heavy” recruiting campaign in an attempt to attract more minority candidates to take the police officer exam.

He said that data compiled through a questionnaire that was filled out by 90 of the 100 or so people that took the Civil Service exam on Sept. 18, 2021 showed that “a more diverse population came out to take our exam.”

While 84.4 percent of the participants identified themselves as White, 3.3 percent were Hispanic or Latino, 2.2 percent Black or African American, 1.1 percent Asian and 1.1 percent Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

Heubusch said that the data collected will be used to establish a baseline for future exams.

The department also conducted a physical agility test last week at Genesee Community College, Heubusch said, where “we definitely saw a more diverse group of people come out for that.”

The Batavia Police Advisory Collaboration Stakeholder Group, consisting of citizens from various public and private sectors, was formed in compliance with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 that called for community policing reform throughout New York.

It met several times during the fall and winter of 2020 and 2021, resulting in the creation of a list of action items that was submitted to Albany. Batavia’s plan is focused on training, community engagement/policing, community liaison, communication, officer wellness and diversity – including Civil Service reform.

“This (Civil Service reform) was a big nugget that everybody talked about across the state,” said Heubusch, who noted that he discussed that subject on a webinar yesterday with the New York State Police Chiefs Association. “(We) continue to advocate for Civil Service reform with elected officials and through professional organizations.”

Other highlights of Heubusch’s presentation to City Council:

  • Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance has decreased by 54 percent on average over the past five years. Crimes such as larceny and simple assault also declined in 2020 compared to 2019. However, Heubusch said, preliminary reports for 2021 indicate a slight increase in those numbers.
  • The BPD will continue community dialogue through neighborhood meetings and National Night Out. Heubusch said the department’s CrimeWatch page has resulted in enhanced communication with the public and includes a link to Division of Criminal Justice Services statistics.
  • The department’s community liaison program is multi-faceted, including regularly scheduling outings at senior citizen complexes and civic groups, continued engagement with minority groups, placement of a school resource officer at Batavia City School District (Officer Miah Stevens) and establishment of a Citizens Academy Program for interested adults. Heubusch also said plans include enrolling Stevens in the next DARE training class.
  • Community engagement/policing efforts include more foot and bicycle patrols, bicycle safety classes, enhanced training through an agreement with Genesee County Mental Health, crisis intervention training, ongoing implicit bias training, and certification of a de-escalation trainer and defensive tactics instructor.
  • Emphasis on physical, mental and spiritual wellness of police officers, with monthly briefings with the police chaplain, participation in wellness program training, debriefing efforts after critical incidents and regular meetings with supervisors to discuss any potential issues.

City of Batavia Police Department makes two arrests connected to August incident on Otis Street

By Mike Pettinella

The City of Batavia Police Department has made two arrests connected to an incident brought to the attention of City Council by an Otis Street resident at the governing body’s Sept. 13 meeting.

“The arrests are the result of one of the incidents he (Ronald Yantz) spoke of at an earlier meeting,” Police Chief Shawn Heubusch confirmed to The Batavian.

Released today via its Crime Watch police blotter platform, Batavia PD reported the following arrests:

Brooke M. Ayala, 36, of Batavia, Endangering the welfare of a child, Criminal Nuisance, 11:28 PM, Monday, August 23, 2021, Otis Street. On 10/7/2021, Ayala was arrested on the above charges. The arrest comes after an investigation into an incident on 8/23/2021, on Otis Street. Ayala was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in Batavia City Court on 10/19/2021.

Kelly L Wells, 57, of Batavia, Criminal Nuisance, 11:28 PM, Monday, August 23, 2021, Otis Street. On 10/7/2021, Wells was arrested on the above charge. The arrest comes after an investigation into an incident on 8/23/2021, on Otis Street. Wells was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in Batavia City Court on 10/19/2021.

Yantz appeared at the City Council meeting to inform Council of ongoing unruly and disruptive behavior by people living in a house across the street from him on Otis Street.

At the time, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said the police department and the code enforcement department would do all that was possible to rectify the situation, with Heubusch indicating that there was an open investigation and charges were pending.

At the Oct. 12 City Council meeting, Yantz returned, this time thanking the board and police department for their efforts as things have calmed down on that section of the street.

Previously: City of Batavia leaders, police taking steps to help Otis Street couple deal with disruptive neighbors

BREAKING NEWS: Shots fired after vehicle stopped on Route 33, near Mill Road

By Mike Pettinella

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  During the course of events yesterday we had a technical issue with the website.  This caused us to copy the original post and headline and create a new post with the same information and then delete the old post.  When we did this, all the comments disappeared with the original post.  I just wanted readers to know that no comments were deliberately removed.





A person is in custody after two shots were fired on Route 33 in the Town of Stafford, according to a report from Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, who is at the scene.

Owens reported at 6:12 p.m. that a silver Pontiac sedan was westbound into the City of Batavia on Route 33 and it was weaving.

Just after passing Mill Road, a Genesee County sheriff's deputy pulled the vehicle over and a black male driver got out of the car and ran across Route 33 into a corn field on the south side of the road.

About three or four minutes later, a shot was fired, Owens said, calling back to report that a second shot has been fired.

Two sheriff's deputies and a City of Batavia police officer are on the scene.


UPDATE 11:57 p.m. (by Howard): Suspect in custody as of about 10 or 15 minutes ago.

UPDATE 9:36 p.m. (by Howard Owens):  At shortly before 6 p.m., while returning home from Rochester on Route 33, I noticed a silver Pontiac sedan weaving.  He crossed the center line and the fog line once each and then went straight for a while.  I didn't immediately call it in.  Then it weaved multiple times so at 6:04 p.m., I called dispatch completing the call as we approached Griswold Road.  A few seconds later, the car slowed to about 45 mph.  At Route 237 it slowed again.  Then about 1/4 of a mile later, it accelerated to 75 mph.  I called dispatch again.  As we approached Mill Road I spotted a deputy parked in a drive lane in a farm field on the right side of the road.  I slowed to allow him in behind the vehicle.  The vehicle pulled over as soon as the officer his emergency lights. I was not planning to stop but as soon as the Pontiac stopped, the driver bolted from the car.  He was a tall, thinnish, Black male dressed in all black. He ran in a laneway between rows of corn near where there is a corn-for-sale stand at the side of the road. The deputy pursued on foot but stopped when he got to the start of the cornfield and he drew his weapon.  I later heard him tell another officer that he had seen the man with a gun in his belt.  I walked back from the way we came (to me, it feels like north but I guess it's really east) to watch the open field on that end of the incident to see if I saw the man fleeing.  After a couple of minutes, I decided he was more likely to run toward the Thruway where there was more cover so I walked back to my car.  Just as I reached my car, I heard a gunshot.  I took cover behind my vehicle. I heard at least four more shots while in that position.  At that point, two deputies and a patrol vehicle pulled in behind my vehicle and asked me to get in the backseat of the patrol vehicle.  I did.  Then the female passenger from the sedan got in the back seat.  I asked her what was going on.  She said she didn't know and that she had just met the driver earlier today.  I was left with a Batavia police officer who was blocking traffic at Caswell and Route 33 until about 8:30 when the Sheriff's Office provided me a ride home.  The situation as far as I know remains unresolved.  I'm told not to  expect a press conference tonight.  Law enforcement is on a secure channel now so further updates are going to be difficult to obtain.

8:21 p.m. -- The New York State Thruway traffic is moving very slowly.


Photo above taken at 7:55 p.m.

7:47 p.m. -- Situation continues as Monroe County Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team arrives.

7:35 p.m. -- Latest report from Owens: Monroe County Sheriff's Office drone operator is on the scene.

7:26 p.m. -- The New York State Police helicopter has arrived on the scene (photo below).


7:17 p.m. -- Police are indicating that at least a dozen shots have been fired, all by the suspect. His location is believed to be in a wooded area behind a tree east of Mill Road near the New York State Thruway.

6:53 p.m. -- Genesee County's Emergency Response Team has been dispatched to the scene.

6:45 p.m. -- Owens reported that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officer has arrived with his K-9. He also said that a deputy reported that he saw a gun at the driver's waistline.

6:38 p.m. -- Police have ordered the scene to be evacuated, moving Owens east to Caswell Road. The driver of the car is still at large, with Owens indicating that all shots have been fired by the suspect.

6:30 p.m. -- A fourth shot has been fired. The person in custody is the female passenger in the car (photo above).

6:25 p.m. -- Multiple law enforcement vehicles are on the scene.

6:24 p.m. -- A third shot has been fired.

6:20 p.m. -- Route 33 is closed.

Photos by Howard Owens.

City police department hosts annual Community Night Out Aug. 10 at St. Anthony's on Liberty Street

By Press Release

From BPD:

The City of Batavia Police Department will host the annual Community Night Out from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, at City Church's St. Anthony's campus, located at 114 Liberty St. in Batavia.

Expect free food, a bounce house, games, horses (horses, of course), vendors, "& more!"

If you want more information about how to become a sponsor or have a booth at the event, contact Detective Wojtaszczyk at:  [email protected]

'It's horrible.' City resident seeks police intervention to end criminal activity around Washington Avenue

By Mike Pettinella


There’s some serious stuff going on around Washington Avenue, Willow Street and State Street -- and at least one resident is imploring City Council to do something about it.

“I’m just here tonight because I’m concerned about the neighborhood,” said Lynne Geissler, (in photo at top), noting that she has lived at Washington and Willow for four years. “I understand that it’s a different neighborhood.”

Geissler, speaking during the public comments portion of tonight’s Conference Meeting at City Centre Council Board Room, mentioned the increase in “criminal action,” adding that it is “horrible” and is taking place at all hours of the night, causing her to lose sleep.

“There’s got to be some way that … I don’t know,” she said. “I was going to go to the police department to talk to the police chief but they’re not letting anybody in (or so she believed). So, I figured I’d come down here to talk, to see, because there’s a lot of things going on and it has to be taken care of.”

She brought up that she has health issues and understands that drugs and mental disorders are real problems.

“But when you’re having the police at your house 20 times in a four-day period, and our landlord can’t do anything (and) we as tenants can’t do anything,” she said. “There’s got to be some way – CPS (Child Protective Services), there’s mental health, everybody’s involved but nothing’s getting fixed.”

Jankowski advised her to talk with Police Chief Shawn Heubusch directly after the meeting and set up an appointment.

Council Member Kathleen Briggs said that she has received calls from people living on State Street “and they’re telling me that they do call police and police are responding.”

“I also told them that they should contact their landlords and they said the landlords aren’t doing anything,” she added. “Police are doing what they can but don’t you think we have to hold these landlords accountable?”

It was mentioned that these instigators should be evicted, but current laws against eviction have tied landlords’ hands.

Geissler said her landlord is sympathetic but indicated that “if he went to evict someone right now – if it was one of his houses – it would be nine to 12 months before that person would be out.”

Afterward, Heubusch acknowledged that officers are dealing with "some serious things" and, without getting into details, said that investigations are ongoing.

“We will look into this further,” he said.


Last month, city resident Phillip Boyd came to a City Council meeting to promote the placement of a disc golf course at a city park.

He reappeared tonight, flanked by six other disc golf enthusiasts, and said he has mapped out a course that would take up about two-thirds of Centennial Park, the 14-acre natural setting located in the north-central part of the city.

Boyd said he also has prices for how much sponsorship would cost.

“Now, I’m just looking for it to be actually brought up as an agenda item,” he said.

With that, City Council President Eugene Jankowski advised him to turn all his documents over to City Manager Rachael Tabelski and work with her going forward.

Two of his friends, Doug Forsyth and Louis Ortiz, also went up to the podium, speaking briefly while indicating that they backed Boyd’s efforts.

Forsyth said he heard about the matter from reading The Batavian and wanted to let Council know that his group has secured some funding for the initiative.

Tabelski said Centennial Park is the preferred location. She added that she will review Boyd’s proposal with department heads with the expectation of providing a recommendation to Council at the July 12 meeting.

In legislative matters, Council approved:

  • A resolution to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main, and another setting a public hearing on the matter for 7 p.m. July 12. Tabelski said she thinks the grant, if received, could fund up to 90 percent of the project cost.
  • A resolution to award V.J. Gautieri Constructors $18,800 from the city’s Revolving Loan Fund Grant to help replace sidewalks at the Ellicott Place project at 45-47 Ellicott St. (Save-A-Lot building).

City of Batavia police reform plan issued for public comment

By Press Release

Press release:

Following the completion of the DRAFT City of Batavia Police Reform Plan it was presented to City Council for their input and subsequently made available to the public for further input.

The City has created a feedback form on the City’s website to receive written comments. The Plan and form can be located here:

Please take the time to review the Plan and submit your comments as they relate directly to the plan.

Positive community perception, establishment of minority focus group highlight police chief's presentation

By Mike Pettinella

City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said he is encouraged by the results of a survey designed to gauge the community’s perception of his department and is looking forward to expanding the work of the Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group.

Speaking at Monday night’s City Council meeting, Heubusch shared highlights of the draft report generated as a result of seven meetings of the advisory group, which was formed last summer in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 203 on community policing reform.

The draft of the plan, which ultimately will be submitted to the New York State Office of Management and Budget, will be available for public viewing and input on the City of Batavia’s website for about 30 days. Council is expected to consider the plan, including any updates, at its March 8 Business meeting.

Heubusch said he felt “very proud” about the response to the survey question, “When I seen an officer how do I feel?,” as the overwhelming majority indicated that seeing an officer made them feel safer and that they would be treated fairly.

He said the 14-question survey drew 828 responses, with 77 percent of the respondents stating that they lived in Batavia and 87 percent indicating that they were white. Fifty-eight percent were over the age of 45 and 56 percent were female.

The chief also said it was “very reassuring” that 81 percent of the respondents said that their opinion of the Batavia PD has not changed because of national events.

“Remember, when we started this it was right after all of the tumultuous activity that took place across the country,” Heubusch said.

He also pointed out that 80 percent said officers acted professionally/very professionally during an interaction, with 7 percent offering no opinion and 3 percent stating officers were unprofessional/very unprofessional.

“Eight respondents said their last interaction was due to an arrest and five of those respondents indicated the department was professional or very professional,” he added.

Concerning recommendations going forward, Heubusch said the top two answers to the question, “What should the Batavia PD do?” were to provide more training and resources for the officers on bias based policing and do more to address vehicle and pedestrian safety.

“Number two was to assign more resources to assist those with substance abuse issues, number three was to assign more resources to assist youth and number four was to engage more with the community,” he reported.

Heubusch said he is especially pleased with the fact that a focus group of minority residents has been established and will continue to meet on a regular basis.

“We had one meeting and it was extremely productive, and we are committed to continuing (open dialogue), he said, noting that several members of the minority community were part of the 28-member advisory group.

He said the committee learned about policies, procedures and training, including use of force, bias based policing, basic course for police, Article 35, body worn cameras and de-escalation training.

“With Article 35, once we placed someone under arrest, they can’t resist,” Heubusch said. “It was actually kind of an eye-opening moment for us. Several people in the group didn’t realize that when a police officer says you’re under arrest, that was it.”

Heubusch outlined other areas that the agency plans to begin or re-emphasize:

  • Trainings such as implicit bias and de-escalation, as well as mental health and crisis intervention.

“We plan to collaborate more with Genesee County Mental Health and there also is a larger discussion with other law enforcement agencies for some type of response service,” he said.

  • Community Engagement/Community Policing, including more foot and bicycle patrols, and establishing a community liaison service.
  • Transparency/data sharing, specifically posting Department of Criminal Justice reports on the city’s website and starting a Crime Watch program on social media to “get information out in a much smoother fashion than our current website.”
  • Accreditation, with the hope of initial accreditation later this year and then reaccreditation every three to five years.
  • Civil Service reform, with the goal of revamping a system that Heubusch said is antiquated.

“It doesn’t allow you to hire the best candidate at times, unfortunately,” he said, adding that there is a discussion across the state to reform the Civil Service hiring process. He added that the department is committed to hiring local candidates.

  • Special programs: specifically contracting with the Batavia City School District for a school resource officer; having a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer in schools; starting a citizens’ police academy and an officer wellness program.

Heubusch said it is a priority to continue to participate in National Night Out and as many other city and private outreach events as possible.

City PD asks residents to complete brief online survey to be used in reform plans due April 1 to Cuomo

By Press Release

Press release:

The City of Batavia and the Batavia Police Department are asking city residents to participate in an online survey the results of which will be used in formulating the department’s response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, which requires police departments across New York State to submit reform plans to the state by April 1.

The online survey can be accessed here. It is anticipated that filling out the survey will take approximately five minutes.

The survey is just one component of the various outreach and engagement efforts being conducted by the Batavia Police Advisory Collaboration Stakeholder Group. The Stakeholder Group has met several times with the next meeting scheduled for Dec. 10th at a venue still to be determined because of concerns about the increasing COVID-19 infection rates.  

“Community feedback and input is a critical component of our efforts in developing our plan,” said City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch. “We realize that not every resident has reliable online access so various members of the stakeholder group are going to assist residents to fill out the survey.”

The survey asks residents to answer various questions, including: the nature of their last interaction with the police department and how they would rate that experience; a series of questions based on a 1-5 rating as to whether they strongly agree or strongly disagree with various statements about the police department; a list of options as far as what the police department should be prioritizing; whether or not assigning non-law-enforcement professionals should respond to certain 9-1-1 calls; and, various demographic information among others.

Rift between city, farmers' market widens as new police station feasibility study moves forward

By Mike Pettinella

As a Williamsville architectural firm conducts a feasibility study on the construction of a new Batavia Police Department headquarters on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street, a representative of the Genesee Country Farmers’ Market continues to seek an “open dialogue” with City Council on the future of the seasonal produce business.

In 2020, the privately owned market, which has been at several locations over the past 15 years, conducted business on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from June 5 through Oct. 30 on the Downtown lot across the street from the City Centre Mall.

The market has been a hot topic of discussion in recent days following Market Manager Elizabeth “Betty” Carr’s public comments at City Council’s Oct. 26 meeting. At the meeting, Carr asked city leaders to reconsider its decision to build a new police station on the Alva Place parking lot.

Since then, although no formal meeting between farmers’ market board members and City Council has taken place, the open dialogue that Carr was hoping for has come in the form of remarks on the website of The Batavian and its Facebook page.

On one side, there is City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. consistently stating the municipality’s position that since the city already owns the Alva Place lot – which was deemed the No. 2 choice by a police facility task force that met in 2015 – erecting a new police facility there would result in a significant cost savings.

The first choice, a parcel on Swan Street, was not a city-owned property. When city leaders inquired about its availability, they were told it was not for sale.

While no official budgetary figures have been released (that will happen at the conclusion of the feasibility study by Architecture Unlimited LLC, of Williamsville), previous cost estimates were in the $9 million to $12 million range. City officials are hopeful that the building they are proposing will cost less than that based on similar completed projects in the Town of Clarence and Town of Greece.

Jankowski: City Saves Money as Property Owner

“Here’s the thing about the farmers’ market,” Jankowski said. “We’re saving $500,000 by building the station on our own property. The farmers’ market manager in her emails and in her comments on Facebook, which some of them were out of line, is expecting us to just give them a $500,000 value or more lot in the middle of town. We’ve already been given a walkability study that says we have too many parking lots. Those lots were designed for buildings to be put there.”

Jankowski said Carr is advocating for the city give to the market taxpayer-funded property at no charge.

“And I don’t know who is going to pay for the building they want to put on there. I’m thinking she expects the city to pay for the building as well,” he said. “She wants us to build and give her a piece of property, and then we need to go buy another piece of property, take that off the tax rolls and build our police station on some third, fourth or fifth choice that we can come up with so she can have the farmers’ market there.”

On the other side is Carr, who said she is simply looking for City Council to allow directors of the farmers’ market to present pertinent information about the markets’ customer base and nutritional needs in an era of COVID-19.

“Mr. Jankowski says we are taking a hard line? The only hard line is that this was dictated to us,” she said. “We were never in agreement and we were never asked to have a conversation. We were told from day one that we would have to move.”

Carr said that Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski informed market officials that they could stay in their current location through 2021.

“It always was with the intent that we would have to move, which is why I spoke in front of City Council and asked for open dialogue, so we could talk about this,” Carr said. “And I was shocked at how Mr. Jankowski handled himself the next day. He printed lies. He said that we’re trying to steal property from the city and that we were already in agreement to this move.”

Carr Takes Exception to Facebook Post

She also said that Jankowski insulted (Farmers’ Market Treasurer) Sharon Brent, posting a Facebook comment that read “How can anyone buy from this woman?”

“We have no idea how that has hurt her business, and she has been in her business for 45 years,” Carr said.

A review of the numerous statements on The Batavian’s Facebook page reveals that Jankowski’s actual post was as follows: “The market is now demanding the city turn over that property to them for permanent use for free. It’s very disappointing that the market is trying to steal a piece of property from the taxpayers valued at over $500,000. After this behavior who would want to do business with them at this point?”

Carr admitted that the farmers’ market has no right to dictate city policy, but at least should be respected enough -- considering that it does bring people and revenue to Batavia – to be invited to the table to talk about its fate.

“The city has never had any conversation with us,” she said. “We are a bunch of farmers. I’m new to the market. Who are we to say we want the city to build a building for us? Who is saying that? We are not.”

As far as the feasibility study is concerned, Public Works Director Matt Worth said he has sent utility and survey information, and boundaries and dimensions of the Alva Place lot to the architectural firm, while architects have made some on-site visits and are reviewing operations of the existing police facility – the 165-year-old former Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St.

“We’re pretty much on the front end of it. We’re in the information gathering process, I would say at this point,” said Worth, who expects the study to take another six months or so.

Worth: Feasibility Study is Determining Factor

Worth said the feasibility study will determine the configuration of the facility – one- or two-story, shape, provisions for parking, etc. – and is anticipating a price point that fits within the city’s plans to finance it over a 20- to 30-year period.

“We’ll have a really good idea once this is done. The original task force numbers were very conceptual and we didn’t have a lot of confidence that it was going to be that costly,” he said. “And that’s really where we made the connection with Architecture Unlimited. They were involved with a state police/sheriff’s facility that was built in the Town of Clarence, and so we were able to get some numbers that they had for that as well as the new police facility that was built in the Town of Greece.

“Looking at those and how the building could be configured, it became apparent that it seemed like it could be done for quite a bit less than that and make it more affordable.”

Worth said the feasibility study is costing the city $41,200.

Carr, when advised that the feasibility study was underway, said that was “new information” to her and questioned if Batavia residents were on board with such a long-term financial commitment.

“I’m not sure if the citizens want a police station there or if they really want a police station,” she offered. “It could be that citizens want to revisit how they’re tax dollars are to be used … and judging from comments on Facebook and The Batavian comments, about the location of the police department and if it is necessary.”

She then asked how city leaders set their priorities.

“Then I would ask of the city, during this feasibility study, what’s their measurement of success? In other words, who are they serving? Are they going to do something that’s going to ... how do they determine what best serves the citizens? They’ve got the farmers’ market.”

Would Relocation Affect Business?

Carr did agree that the current police headquarters is inadequate, but said that placing a new one would on the Alva Place lot would devastate the farmers’ market.

“If the market moved to Angotti’s (Beverage Corp.) parking lot on School Street … well, 73 percent of our customers walk or bike and (right now) no one crosses Main Street or Ellicott Street. You might as well put us on an island, all by ourselves,” she said.

“Seventy-three percent of our customers may not come because they’d have to cross those busy streets. Senior citizens with their walkers and motorized scooters – they’re not going to cross those busy streets. And we’d be that much farther removed from other customers we currently serve, such as the employees of the hospital and the YMCA.”

Jankowski said a new headquarters for the Batavia Police Department is long overdue.

“The facility is not proper right now – we know that – and it’s falling apart,” he said. “We need a building on our own property and we need a building where we can save money.”

The retired City of Batavia police officer then pointed out some of the problems with the current police station.

“Who is going to benefit from it? People in the community that are arrested. They’ll have a better facility to be housed in temporarily when they’re interviewed – in a proper area,” Jankowski said. “Evidence will be stored in a proper safe facility and not contaminating people with the fumes coming off it. You’ve got blood evidence, you’ve got drug evidence. That stuff is locked in an old safe now; there’s no ventilation in there. When those guys (police officers) walk in there, they’re taking a breath and inhaling that stuff. It can’t be healthy.”

Current Police Station is Lacking

Jankowski said the city has to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.

“We’re not making this stuff up,” he said. “When you’re a victim of a crime or domestic abuse, we have a safe place to go and you’re not being yelled at by your abuser because you’re in the same room and there’s a door there and he’s yelling through the window at you.”

The council president said he has received no complaints from the public until “Ms. Carr gets hired by the farmers’ market and now she is demanding that we turn over this lot to them at no charge and create a permanent place for the market.”

“I love the market … but nobody said it was a permanent deal. It was land that was not being used and we said, ‘Sure, you can use it temporarily.’ I do know that when they were moved there, it was not my impression that they were moved there permanently.”

Jankowski said the city would like to help them find another location, preferably close to downtown. He also said the farmers’ market has the option to purchase city-owned property at the fair market rate and erect its own structure, adding that nonprofits such as Genesee/Orleans Council on Substance Abuse and Alcoholism and YMCA invest their own money to construct their own buildings.

He suggested moving it behind the YMCA.

“They’re going to be having a big wellness thing there (Healthy Living campus) and maybe the best place is to move across the street and be right behind the Y,” he said. “We’re trying to help them find a location, but from what I’m told, they want the place they’re at now and nothing we offer is acceptable to them at this point. Personally, the way they’re acting, I have lost interest in the farmers’ market being there even another year.”

Who are the Bullies in This Situation?

While Jankowski contends the farmers’ market is trying to “bully” the city, Carr said it is the other way around.

“We are being bullies by asking for conversation? A bully is someone who dictates terms and that’s what the city is doing to us. We’re in a totally reactive position. We have no clout,” she said.

Carr said she seeks to inform Council members of information that needs to be considered.

“I’m bringing to their attention a New York State Field & Fork survey that shows groundswell that that area is the perfect location for the market – as 73 percent of the customers are able to walk and bike (to get there),” she said. “In addition, in 2018 across the nation was the beginning of a movement (that) everyone wants more local produce from their farmers’ markets. And just recently, USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) issued an RFI (request for information) stating that by the year 2050, 40 percent of all locally grown produce must come from locally grown in order to reduce the carbon footprint by 50 percent.”

She also said that people need to be educated on the relationship between COVID-19 and healthy eating.

“How can you make decisions with such game-changing facts in front of you based on data that’s five years out of date?” she asked. “COVID is the game-changer here. It’s a known fact that eating more produce increases your immunity and it’s from only your locally grown produce where you get optimal nutrition. These changes are taking place and they have been going on for quite a while and you’ve missed this data.”

Carr said directors of the farmers’ market plan to meet on Nov. 16 to discuss their options, mentioning that she has reached out to Congressman Chris Jacobs to see if he could assist in helping them to locate some funding independent of the city.

“As far as the farmers’ market and the reception that the farmers’ market received, including Mr. Jankowski slamming our lead farmer, why wouldn’t we just pack up and move to Batavia Downs or get someone to underwrite us and go elsewhere?” she asked. “What’s the point in staying Downtown because the city doesn’t want us there? They’ve been kicking us around, year to year, going on the 12th time in the course of 15 years, without conversation. Does that seem right?”

Previously: Farmers' market treasurer provides information in response to City Council's queries

Previously: Farmers' Market manager asks Council to reconsider placing new police station on Alva Place lot

Previously: Placement of 'nomadic' Genesee Country Farmers' Market is up in the air once more

City Council agenda includes resolution to create Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group

By Mike Pettinella

In compliance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order on policing reform, the City of Batavia has set the wheels in motion to form a 15-member Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group that will assist in drafting a plan based on community input by April 1, 2021.

The executive order, “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative,” stipulates that police departments must adopt a plan by the April date to be eligible for future state funding.

The topic is on both the Conference and Business agendas of Monday night’s City Council meeting at City Hall Council Chambers. The Conference meeting will begin at 7 o’clock.

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a July 30 memo to City Council, wrote that the governor’s mandate is in “direct response to incidents involving law enforcement officials whereby actions of particular officer(s) resulted in the death of unarmed citizens.”

“The City of Batavia stands in deep sadness and grief over the actions of a few officers who have contributed to a culture of mistrust and divisiveness,” she wrote. “No one deserves to be abused, or treated unfairly, by members of their community and especially not by law enforcement officials.”

In boldface type: “All individuals should be held to the same standard, with no one above the law – whether civilian, law enforcement or government official and those that break the law should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

Tabelski continued, praising the Batavia police force as “a world-class police department comprised of men and women who take the job of protecting and serving our community very seriously. The Batavia Police Department has and will continue to uphold a high standard of professionalism in themselves and those that serve with.”

According to the resolution to be considered by Council, the advisory group will consist of the following:

  • City manager;
  • Police chief;
  • Assistant police chief;
  • City attorney;
  • One City Council member;
  • Two citizen representatives;
  • Batavia Housing Authority director;
  • Director of a not-for-profit that serves human interests (i.e. YWCA);
  • District attorney representative;
  • Public defender representative;
  • Batavia Police Benevolent Association representative;
  • Batavia City School District superintendent;
  • Community religious leader;
  • Business leader representative.

The role of the advisory group, per the memo, is to review current police department policies, procedures and training initiatives, and to recommend improvements in areas such as community policing, response, crime prevention through environmental design and training enhancements.

“The goal of the Group will be to build upon the current policies adopted by the Department, that meet or exceed industry standards and best practices, and to build further relationships within the community,” Tabelski wrote.

According to supporting documentation for Monday’s meeting, the Batavia Police Department has already met or exceeded about a dozen standards or initiatives spelled out in Cuomo’s executive order.

Those include updates of use of force policy, standards of conduct/community relations/biased based policing and training, law enforcement diversion programs, restorative justice practices, community outreach, hot-spot policing, focused deterrence (specialized patrols) and violence prevention, and the department is in the process of being accepted into the NYS Accreditation Program.

The timetable for advisory group activities lists Sept. 1st as the deadline for the committee’s formation (applications will be accepted at the city manager’s office), schedule regular meetings beginning in September, draft presentation of the plan to Council in January, public comments in February and final version of the plan in March.

In other developments, Tabelski:

-- Will share details of a July 29 memo to Council that projects a $1.18 million loss to the City of Batavia due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown in the state. That number is significantly less than the April projection of a $2.5 million loss in sales tax and other revenue sources.

“(After the first quarter) sales tax and property tax losses were not as severe as originally forecasted,” she reported.

The memo indicates that the city has the potential to save $641,388 as a result of a spending freeze, layoffs and hiring freezes that began in April and the potential to gain $185,524 in revenue when considering Video Lottery Terminal funds ($352,631) and other sources ($79,000) which “will assist in offsetting the anticipated reduction in AIM (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) aid in the amount of $246,107.”

Subtracting the potential receipts from the $1.18 million in projected revenue loss, the current shortfall comes to $357,585.

-- Will recommend paying $750 per month stipends, effective July 1, to Dawn Fairbanks, human resource specialist; Lisa Neary, director of finance, and Lisa Casey, confidential secretary to the city manager, for additional duties they have taken on since the departure of former City Manager Martin Moore.

Tabelski moved from Assistant City Manager into the Acting City Manager role on June 22.

As a result, she wrote in a memo dated July 30, Fairbanks, Neary and Casey assumed some of the duties assigned to the assistant manager, including implementation and management of projects pertaining to software applications, information technology, fiber network connections, flood zone communications, risk management and Bond Anticipation Notes for future capital projects.

Batavia police will begin ticketing vehicles parked overnight on city streets Sept. 1

By Billie Owens

From City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch:

Effective Sept. 1, officers will begin ticketing vehicles parked overnight on City streets in accordance with section 178-13 of the City of Batavia Municipal Code:

§ 178-13 All-night parking.
The parking of vehicles is hereby prohibited on all highways within the City of Batavia between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Officers have been and will continue to issue warnings during the month of August in an effort to remind residents of the enforcement. The practice of issuing overnight parking tickets had been suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you have a hardship and need to park a vehicle in the street overnight due to driveway paving, construction or similar issue you may contact the dispatch center at 345-6350 and ask to speak with the on-duty supervisor to discuss the hardship. If you have any questions regarding this policy please contact the on-duty supervisor.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Batavia Police Chief: Department is 'well positioned to move forward'

By Mike Pettinella

A statement issued today by City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order mandating that all New York police agencies must revise their policies and procedures by April 2021 or risk losing state and/or federal funding:

“The Batavia Police Department is working towards New York State accreditation and follows all of the most current policies and procedures from the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Municipal Police Training Council (MPTC) with regards to Use of Force and other policies governing police services.

“The BPD remains dedicated to community involvement and community policing. The men and women in the BPD seek to identify and de-escalate problems as they arise among residents and they take their duty to protect and server seriously. The officers in the City of Batavia are dedicated, professional, public servants who serve the community every day to the best of their abilities.

“After reviewing the Governor’s new executive order with the City Manager’s Office, I feel that we as a department are well positioned to move forward to enhance our police services. We have most of the polices and “evidence-based policing strategies” in place here in our City.

The BPD will continue to seek community input and will look forward to working with City management, the City Attorney, City Council, City leaders, City residents and our collective associations in regards to the executive order.”

On Monday, The Batavian posted a statement from Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron in response to the Executive Order.

Thank a police officer and recognize the fallen

By Billie Owens


Above, Village of Corfu Police Department Officer Scott Johnston.

Photos and press release from the Office of the Sheriff, Genesee County:

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week.

Typically, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, D.C., to participate in a number of planned events which honor those officers that have paid the ultimate sacrifice during this week.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic these events have been cancelled this year.

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr., City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, Village of Le Roy Police Chief Christopher Hayward, along with the Genesee County Legislature, recognize this week in honor of all those in the law enforcement profession for the countless hours each officer dedicates to the community in which they serve.

The Genesee County Legislature will be issuing a proclamation at its Wednesday night meeting recognizing May 10 – 16, 2020, as National Police Week. The lights on the Old County Courthouse cupola will be changed to blue to acknowledge this week.

Law enforcement officers are always prepared to respond and aid our residents, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We commend the women and men of the law enforcement community for their selfless dedication to the protection of the citizens and communities they serve. May God bless them and their families. Please take a moment and join us in paying tribute to these tremendous individuals and remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Sheriff Sheron, Chief Heubusch and Chief Hayward in a joint statement.


Above, Village of Le Roy Police Department, from left: Officer Adriano Medici, Detective John Condidorio, Officer Zachary Klafehn, Officer Chris Ford, Sergeant Greg Kellogg, Officer Curt Miller, Officer Steve Cappotelli, Officer Connor Denz.


Above, Genesee County Sheriff's Office, from left: Sergeant Michael J. Lute, Deputy Rachel M. Diehl, Investigator Joseph D. Loftus, Deputy Robert C. Henning, Deputy Travis M. DeMuth.


Above, City of Batavia Police Department, from left: Officer Austin Hedges, Officer Felicia DeGroot, Officer Josh Girvin, Officer Nicole McGinnis, Officer Sam Freeman.

Genesee County police agencies, City of Batavia FD join nationwide addiction and recovery initiative

By Mike Pettinella


Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, GOW Opioid Task Force and local police/public safety departments have come together to offer an innovative program for Genesee County residents dealing with substance use disorders.

The City of Batavia Police Department, Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, Village of Le Roy Police and, most recently, the City of Batavia Fire Department have signed on to participate in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI).

This is a nationwide effort to provide support and resources to help law enforcement agencies create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

“We wholeheartedly believe in a ‘multiple pathways to recovery approach’ and PAARI is an important component in that philosophy,” said John Bennett, GCASA executive director. “The commitment of local law enforcement and now the Batavia City Fire Department to this program expands the spectrum to access services.”

The City of Batavia Fire Department is the first fire department in New York – and one of only a few in the nation -- to enlist in PAARI.

Fire Chief Stefano “Steve” Napolitano said he is proud to unite with the other Genesee County agencies already in the program.

“As a fire-based emergency medical services provider within the City of Batavia, we have firsthand knowledge of the opioid dilemma within our community,” he said. “In an effort to assist with this problem, we have designed an intake location within fire headquarters to provide a safe and judgment-free place where a person can come and seek assistance and interventional services. This, in turn, can prevent an overdose death and increase the safety of responding crews by having a safe setting in which to assist.”

Napolitano added that PAARI “aligns with our department’s mission to provide life safety services to all in need and, hopefully, our involvement acts as a catalyst for other fire departments to join in this endeavor.”

The foyer inside the public entrance to the fire headquarters on Evans Street has been renovated with funding from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, a major sponsor of the GOW Opioid Task Force.

City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, who chairs the law enforcement work group of the GOW Opioid Task Force, has been instrumental in making the PAARI program a reality in Genesee County.

“The City of Batavia and Batavia Police Department have taken a proactive approach to assisting with the opioid epidemic by becoming part of the county-wide PAARI program,” Heubusch said. “This allows those suffering from substance abuse disorder to come to the police station, anytime of the day or night, to ask for assistance. We will then, no questions asked, contact a peer support advocate and connect that individual.”

He added that his department is “proud to do our part to help stem the opioid crisis by getting those community members that are in need into services, and by helping reduce the stigma of substance abuse.”

 “It’s important that the community knows that this program is here and that recovery is possible,” said Christen Ferraro, GOW Opioid Task Force coordinator. “On behalf of our hundreds of task force stakeholders, I would like to thank law enforcement for participating in PAARI and other initiatives and, especially, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation for its continued support.”

Ferraro noted that peer advocates are currently available for telephone and internet support during the COVID-19 situation, with normal face-to-face interventions to resume as conditions warrant.

Photo: City of Batavia Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano stands next to the plaque designating fire headquarters on Evans Street as a Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative location.

Disclosure: Story and photo by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

City suspends overnight parking rules, takes extra precautions for safety

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Effective Sunday, March 22, enforcement of overnight parking regulations in the City of Batavia were suspended until further notice. Overnight parking will be allowed to accommodate families and residents impacted by COVID-19.

We encourage residents who can still use their driveways for parking to do so, however we do not want to penalize families that might have extra vehicles at their residence at this time.

Please continue to lock your vehicle and always remove valuables to prevent theft.

In the event of an emergency, or your vehicle is blocking work for the Department of Public Works (i.e. snowplowing, water main break, etc.), you will be asked to move the vehicle or it may be towed.

All other parking regulations such as blocking a fire hydrant, parking in a fire lane or parking in a handicap zone will be strictly enforced. 

Also effective Sunday, March 22, City of Batavia Police officers will not provide courtesy unlock of vehicles, unless there are exigent circumstances such as a child or pet locked inside. 

Furthermore, Batavia Police officers will begin to take enhanced extra precautions when responding to calls for service. 

Callers to dispatch will need to answer screening questions to better aid in appropriate response from emergency personnel. City of Batavia Police Officers and other emergency personnel may wear respirator masks, protective gloves, clear safety glasses and other personal protective equipment when answering calls. 

These measures will ensure the safety of the community and first responders so that they can continue to serve residents in the best capacity possible.

Anyone with signs or symptoms consistent with the CDC guidelines for coronavirus should inform dispatchers, officers, and emergency personnel as soon as practicable.  

If you have any questions about these measures please feel free to contact Police Chief Shawn Heubusch at [email protected].

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation as we all work together to keep Batavia safe.

Det. Sgt. Czora completes fulfilling career with Batavia City Police Department

By Mike Pettinella




Retiring Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora said he had to continually pinch himself as he performed his day-to-day tasks as a member of the Batavia City Police Department.

“Every day for the last 20 years, when I would pull into the parking lot, I would still get those chills like ‘I can’t believe that I’m actually coming here right now to work.’ And I’m thankful that I never lost that feeling,” Czora said during brief comments earlier today at a retirement party at police headquarters on West Main Street.

Czora continued by encouraging his colleagues, many of whom were in attendance, with some simple advice:

“Take care of each other and take care of yourselves,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress and a lot of hard times that come with the job, so make sure you take care of each other and enjoy your job. Don’t let the negative attitudes get to you. Love what you do.”

A feeling of togetherness filled the second-floor meeting room where lunch and a special cake were provided.

An Amherst High School graduate, Czora completed a 20-year stint with the Batavia PD, with his last day today. He received a plaque from the department and a unique wooden flag from Steven Robinson, Genesee County emergency services dispatcher.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said as soon as he met Czora in 2012, he realized that he would be someone he could count on.

“Right away I knew that Kevin was going to be a go-to guy. He was very knowledgeable and did not have any qualms about trying to do new things, try different techniques, different tactics,” Heubusch said. “Kevin has always been kind of an innovator when it comes to that.

Heubusch said Kevin displayed a positive attitude, and noted that the “professionalism and integrity that he brings to the department is bar none. He’s beyond reproach.”

Czora came to Batavia after working with the Federal Reserve as a protections officer.

“When I started here, I didn’t even know how to get to Batavia from the Buffalo area and knew nothing about the community or the department, or even the county,” he said. “Over the years, it has grown into my second home. I have a lot of passion not for just this department but for the community itself.”

He worked his way up from a police officer on the afternoon shift and then to the midnight shift. In time, he earned the rank of sergeant and then detective sergeant.

While he didn’t want to share any particular moments on the job, he did mention that the “camaraderie and the family atmosphere that this department creates has been the most memorable part of it.”

“There have been a number of situations, but as now-retired Detective Rich Schauf mentioned at his retirement, for every memory that you have, there’s a victim on the other side of it, and that’s something that you have to keep in mind and respect. So, even though I have some personal memories, I’m going to keep them personal.”

Czora resides in Amherst with his wife, Lisa, a school teacher, and their sons, Andrew, 20, who is in the Marines, and Evan, 18, who will be enlisting in the Army in July.

He said he has no immediate future plans, but will “take a little time off to recoup from the career, take a mental break and (eventually) I’ll find something to keep my hands busy.”

Czora said he plans to continue playing ice hockey (he’s been a goalie for the past 45 years) and will find time to do some boating.

Heubusch announced that Sgt. Matt Lutey will move into the detective sergeant position, replacing Czora, effective Jan. 7.

The chief said that Sgt. Chris Camp, a 12-year employee, will move into the Assistant Chief post, replacing Todd Crossett, who has accepted a police officer position with the VA Medical Center in Batavia. Camp also will be in charge of the emergency response team, and Officer Mitch Cowen will be promoted to sergeant on Jan. 31.

Photos from top -- Kevin Czora, right, and Chief Shawn Heubusch enjoy a story from retired Batavia Police Officer Pat Mooney at today's retirement party for Czora; Steve Robinson presents Czora with a commemorative flag; Czora and his fellow officers gather for a group picture. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

NYS police chiefs oppose efforts to legalize pot, citing dire impacts on health, public safety and soaring costs

By Billie Owens

Press release from the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, forwarded this afternoon to The Batavian by City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch:

The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police representing more than 500 police chiefs, commissioners, superintendents and other command level police executives, stands in opposition of the State’s intention to propose legislation that would legalize regulated marijuana in New York State.

As police officers, we are sworn to enforce federal, state and municipal laws and to protect the public. Marijuana is illegal under federal law and is classified as a “Schedule 1,” drug which means that the federal government views cannabis as highly addictive with no medical value.

The New England Journal of Medicine reports that “The epidemiological and preclinical data suggests that the use of marijuana in adolescence could influence multiple addictive behaviors in adulthood.” New York State is currently battling an opioid epidemic with law enforcement and public health professionals on the frontline and it would be counterintuitive to condone the use of marijuana.

Aside from the numerous health-related issues with the use of marijuana, we are concerned with how the legalization will impact public safety. Of great concern is traffic safety. New York has been making great strides in lowering traffic fatalities to the lowest numbers on record. In comparing data in Colorado (which legalized marijuana in 2013), the first year that marijuana was legalized traffic fatalities increased 62 percent in that one year.

The detection of impairment by drugs on the roadside must be performed by a certified Drug Recognition Expert, which is a law enforcement officer that has undergone at least two weeks of classroom training and an additional one week of practical field training. It is anticipated that law enforcement would have to add approximately 650 new Drug Recognition experts to handle the necessity of the increase in suspected impaired drivers.

Most law enforcement agencies within New York State have 20 or less members. Without the appropriate funding from the state, the financial impact could be crippling to some municipalities.

In addition to the need for new DRE’s, legalizing regulated marijuana would necessitate retiring a large majority of Police K-9 dogs that are trained to detect marijuana, as their detection capabilities would no longer be admissible in court. The replacement of these K-9 officers could easily take five to seven years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There has not been ample time or studies conducted in order to see what pitfalls may arise should marijuana be legalized in the State of New York. Only after bringing all stakeholders together for meetings, studies and dialog can an educated, informed decision be made.

Once again, I must emphasize that the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police is in opposition to the legalization of marijuana. I urge the State to proceed cautiously, learning from other states that have already suffered the deleterious effects of this decision, before moving forward with legalization in New York State.

Jan. 17, 2019

New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Inc.

24 Century Hill Drive, Suite 002, Latham, NY 12110

Chief John C. Aresta (Malverne PD), President
Jeffrey F. Morris, Executive Director

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