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Hawley joins crime victims, lawmakers and law enforcement pros to address bail reform failures

By Billie Owens

Information from a press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is in Rochester this morning at the oldest home in that city -- the Ebenezer Watts Building. He is with victims impacted by the new criminal justice reforms, and law enforcement professionals and his colleagues from the Minority Conference.

They are gathered to call for Assembly Democrats to address the failing bail reforms that recently went effect into last month.

The members will also discuss their recently issued report "Criminal Justice Reform: Addressing the Issues with Bail and Discovery Reforms."

It provides an overview of the reforms that were passed in 2019, the perceived problems with the new laws, and solutions that should have been considered in a more deliberate process.

Also scheduled to attend are:

Assemblyman Peter Lawrence (R,C,I-Greece)

Assemblyman Mark Johns (R,C,I,Ref-Webster)

Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia)

Assemblyman Brian Manktelow (R,C,I,Ref-Lyons)

Senator Joseph E. Robach (R,C,IP-56th Senate District)

Senator Rich Funke (R,C,IP-55th Senate District)

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley

Ontario County District Attorney James B. Ritts

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty

Monroe County Undersheriff Korey K. Brown

Brockport Chief of Police Mark T. Cuzzupoli

Gates Chief of Police James VanBrederode

Ogden Chief of Police Christopher Mears

Greece Deputy Chief of Police Andrew Forsythe

State's criminal justice reform expected to cost city, county time and money

By Howard B. Owens


Changes in state law about when and how defense attorneys receive evidence in criminal cases are going to create a greater burden on police and drive up costs for the City and the County, members of the City Council were told Monday night.

City Attorney George Van Nest and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch made about a 40-minute presentation on changes to the rules around what is called "discovery" -- the prosecution turning over evidence and information to the defense -- and bail reform.

"What happened is the legislature passed, and the governor signed, a new form of Section 245 of that criminal procedure law," Van Nest said. "What it did is dramatically change the manner in which criminal discovery is handled in New York State effective January 1, 2020."

Under the current system, once a defendant is charged, a defense attorney would file a motion for discovery and the District Attorney would provide information and evidence the DA felt compelled to disclose under criminal procedure law and case law. This would happen over the course of the criminal proceeding including right up to the day of a trial if there was a trial.

The new law requires "automatic discovery" of everything related to the case within 15 days of the arraignment of the defendant. 

This new automatic discovery must include everything related to the case, including all information on witnesses or anybody with information relevant to the case, all written statements, all recordings in police possession or that the police know about, information on all physical evidence, and recordings of relevant 9-1-1 calls and dispatch.

Police officers and detectives will have only days to compile and deliver the evidence and information to the DA's office to give the DA's office time to index and inventory it and prepare it for disclosure to the defendant's attorney.

Both the compressed time frame of gathering and preparing the evidence for dissemination and the greater volume of information and evidence will consume more time for law enforcement and the DA's office.

In the case of traffic tickets -- the city issues about 1,500 a year --  all evidence must be turned over within 24 hours of the issuance of the ticket.

"This increases the workload of our officers and detectives and supervisors and our clerical staff," Heubusch said. "Officers and detective are going to be mandated to complete all paperwork and supporting documentation on a condensed schedule. What that equals is officers may be required to work overtime or maybe taken off of proactive police patrols in our community to make sure that we meet these timeframes so we don't lose any cases."

To help deal with the increased workload, the DA's office is adding another assistant district attorney, another paralegal and a part-time clerk.

Heubusch did not ask for additional personnel in his department but did note that the part-time clerk who handled evidence will now be needed on a full-time basis.

As for bail reform, Heubusch said starting Jan. 1, people accused of misdemeanors or Class E felonies will no longer be arraigned in City Court. The arresting officer, instead, must issue an appearance ticket. The officer must also issue appearance tickets, rather than taking the suspect in for arraignment, for second-degree burglary 2nd and second-degree robbery, all other violent felonies are still eligible for a bail review by a judge.

Types of criminal accusations that will require an appearance ticket include bail jumping, resisting arrest, vehicular assault, menacing, and criminal contempt (unless it's part of a domestic violence case).

Exceptions to the no-bail rules include cases involving members of the same household, a failure to identify oneself properly, a failure to appear in the previous two years, and cases where the defendant could have a driver's license suspended or revoked.

If a judge is going to set bail, the judge must set it as the least restrictive option. In most cases, this means release on own recognizance or release under supervision.

Hawley disgusted by 'shameful' bill to allow felons behind bars to vote

By Billie Owens

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) responds to legislation introduced by Sen. Kevin Parker -- S.6821 -- that would allow locked-up felons the right to vote.

“This is a shameful display of governance that’s insulting not only to law-abiding citizens across New York, but members of law enforcement and the criminal justice system who worked diligently to get these dangerous predators off the street. 

“We are a nation of laws, but it has become crystal clear that New York City politicians believe those laws shouldn’t apply to illegal aliens, criminals or prison inmates – all of which should be held accountable and should face punishments. 

“The challenges facing our state are vast and diverse, but none of them should include making life easier for rapists, murderers and pedophiles. First it was free iPads for prisoners, next it was voting rights for parolees, then it was no bail requirement for accused drug dealers and felons, and now voting rights for inmates. 

“There’s a runaway train in New York tossing giveaways and luxuries to criminals, inmates and illegals and it's being conducted by Gov. Cuomo and New York City radicals.”

Detective and counterfeit goods expert to speak at GCC

By Billie Owens

Submitted photos and press release:

Last year, Homeland Security Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recorded 28,000 seizures of counterfeit goods valued at $1.4 billion. One raid alone in Laredo, Texas, brought in 181,000 items valued at $42.9 million. The serious issue of counterfeit merchandise hits much closer to home, however, with ongoing investigations and detective work occurring each year at the New Era Field in Orchard Park throughout the Buffalo Bills season.

John K. Payne, senior detective with the Orchard Park Police Department will share his vast experience and knowledge about counterfeiting NFL products and other merchandise on Wednesday, March 6, at 1 p.m. in room T102 as part of Genesee Community College's Fashion Business Speaker Series. The event is free and open to the public. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Counterfeiting is a form of theft and seriously impacts businesses, the economy, and our society. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates nearly $500 billion in lost economic activity in one year alone as illegal competitors steal brands and products from legitimate companies who hold genuine trademarks and patents.

Many companies have invested years of research and millions of dollars in product development, typically they employ U.S. citizens, and also support local communities. Stealing revenue from these companies through counterfeiting their products not only affects their bottom line, but also significantly hurts their ability to innovate and invest back in the company and community.

This crime can also pose a serious health risk with products in the food and pharmaceutical industry. 

Detective Payne began his efforts to curtail counterfeit merchandising at football games nearly ten years ago when the Buffalo Bills alerted local law enforcement that numerous vendors were selling illegal items outside the stadium. NFL officials worked closed with the Orchard Park Police Department to train key members of the force to identify legitimate products against the counterfeit.

Detective Payne assembled a task force which included the assistance of federal agencies. In the past few years, numerous arrests have been made including a major supplier, and thousands of dollars of counterfeit merchandise has been seized and destroyed. 

With more than 25 years in law enforcement, including 20 years with the OPPD, Detective Payne has a broad base of experience in criminal justice. He has been a SWAT Team member, sniper, observer, major crimes and fire investigator, as well as an instructor with the Erie County Police Academy. He earned both a master's degree in Police Administration and Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Hilbert College.

"This is the first time the Fashion Business Lecture Series has covered the topic of counterfeit merchandising, and we are honored to have Detective Payne share his expertise to our campus and community," said Laura Taylor, instructor of Fashion Business.

"This is not only an important subject to my fashion business students, but GCC's criminal justice and business students will also gain a vast amount of information from his lecture."

Below, Orchard Park Police Department Senior Detective John K. Payne and some counterfeit NFL merchandise.

New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute announces 2018 scholarship award winner

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and press release:

Annually, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute awards a $250 scholarship to deserving students enrolled in Criminal Justice, Police Science or a similar program in each of the state’s community colleges and at SUNY Canton.  

This year, Alexander Rigerman who is currently enrolled in Criminal Justice at Genesee Community College was a recipient of this scholarship. He was nominated by the college’s Criminal Justice faculty.

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. and Undersheriff Gregory H. Walker presented Alexander with a $250 check to be used to further his Criminal Justice education, along with a scholarship certificate from the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Friday (Nov. 16) at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Melissa Cianfrini promoted to First District Attorney, D.A. announces today

By Billie Owens

Press release:

On Jan. 1, Assistant District Attorney Melissa L. Cianfrini will be promoted to the reestablished position of First District Attorney, Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman announced this afternoon.

Cianfrini has been with the office for nearly eight years and has been a litigation attorney for 18 years.

Friedman said that he has been very pleased with the initiative, work ethic and legal skills demonstrated by Cianfrini; that their partners in the criminal justice community have given him nothing but positive feedback about her performance as a prosecuting attorney.

He is very confident, he said, that his office and the community will continue to be well served by First Assistant District Attorney Cianfrini.

The D.A. also expressed his gratitude to County Manager Jay Gsell for supporting the re-instatement of the First Assistant District Attorney position and to the Genesee County Legislature for understanding the need for the D.A.'s office to once again have someone in this role.

GCC's criminal justice program adds forensics and Homeland Security

By Billie Owens

Genesee Community College's Criminal Justice Program has added special concentrations within its Associate's in Applied Science curriculum.

Forensics as well as Homeland Security/Emergency Management join the traditional Policing, Corrections Counseling and the general concentrations already offered.

"Genesee's Criminal Justice Program has a strong history of excellence," said Barry Garigen, professor of Criminal Justice and program coordinator.

"The concentrations will enhance learning and allow students to focus on emerging areas within the field while still continuing to receive the traditional educational foundation necessary to become successful criminal justice professionals."

The Forensics Concentration includes two science electives and two specialized courses. They are taught by Criminal Justice faculty member Karen Wicka.

Introduction to Forensics (CRJ125) is a three-credit course that will familiarize students with the basic principles of CSI (crime scene investigation) and the scientific concepts and techniques used in a forensic laboratory.

Students participate in crime-scene analysis, evidence collection and evidence preservation. They also work in a number of forensic crime labs involving various branches of forensic science including fingerprinting, toxicology, serology (the study of blood serum) and impression evidence.

This fall, the class is offered from 12:20 to 1:15 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 12:25 to 2:25 p.m. on Fridays.

Forensic Anthropology, (CRJ118), also a three-credit course and it examines human skeletal remains in the context of medico-legal issues.

Students analyze the scientific evidence of skeletal or badly decomposed remains to establish circumstances of death, and identify the decedent by estimating age, gender, racial affinity, stature, pathologic conditions, and traumatic injury.

The course also introduces human osteology (the study of bones), and presents methods and techniques used in forensic anthropology. The course discusses case reports, contexts in which human remains are found, and methods of recovery.

Forensic Anthropology is taught by Kristi Krumine and will be offered from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Kristi has extensive experience in both the practice of and teaching of forensic anthropology and archaeology.

Another new and exciting concentration of Genesee's growing Criminal Justice program is Homeland Security /Emergency Management.

Introduction to Emergency Management (CRJ122) will be offered on Tuesday evenings this fall.

This course examines the need for, and principles of, emergency management in formulating and implementing effective responses to all hazards including natural and man-made disasters.

Students will review contingency planning, hazard and risk assessment, joint operations, law and ethics, mitigation, prevention, emergency response and recovery procedures. CRJ122 will be instructed by Brad Mazur, a member of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Homeland Security (CRJ119) will be offered during the spring semester and presents a comprehensive overview of homeland security from an all-hazards perspective.

Students examine threats to homeland security stemming from natural and technological disasters, domestic and international terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. They also review the roles and responsibilities of governmental agencies, not-for-profit and private agencies, and individual citizens concerning homeland security operations.

Students can still enroll for fall in these or any other criminal justice courses.

For further information on Genesee's Criminal Justice program, please contact Barry Garigen, Criminal Justice professor and program coordinator at 343-0055, ext. 6307 or <> or visit <>.

City's new Mental Health Treatment Court aims to reduce crime and recidivism

By Billie Owens

All too often a person with a mental illness cycles in and out of the criminal justice system, never really getting the kind of assistance he or she needs to break the pattern.

They may stop taking their meds, get high on drugs or alcohol, and wind up committing a crime. They are no less culpable for their actions, but they can make better choices, move forward and be less likely to get into trouble, if they plug into the many resources available to them in Genesee County.

So say the proponents of the Mental Health Treatment Court, which is a new division of Batavia City Court. It accepted its first case last June, before being officially designated as a mental health court in November.

On March 23, an opening ceremony will take place at the courthouse with many of the stakeholders present, including the Hon. Robert J. Balbick, who also presides over city and drug treatment courts and the "veterans' track" cases.

He has spent 20 years on the bench and during that time has seen the growth and advancement of treatment courts.

"People who have mental-health issues, traditionally, haven't been dealt with effectively by the criminal-justice system," Balbick said. "People with a mental illness will not respond in the same way to ideas, programs, etc., as a person without a mental illness.

"We run our court differently. We're trying to encourage, to put people in a place where they can take control of their lives. We are not as coercive. ... Mental health is different than other treatment courts and the (public) response to it is different than others."

Chief Court Clerk Linda Giambrone said the plans for the opening are definately unlike any other held at the courthouse to date. A flautist will play softly before and after the ceremony, a classical guitarist is being sought to perform and art works produced by the mentally ill will be showcased. There's a brunch reception afterward.

"Sometimes the treatment courts are seen as 'soft justice,'" Balbick said. "But they're not. We make that person accountable -- maybe financially, certainly to the community. Hopefully, the person doesn't recycle back into the system. I'd rather see them go through the treatment process."

That process typically begins with recommendations from law enforcement, the public defender's office, doctors and other professionals. Resource Coordinator Nicole Desmond, who has a strong background in the mental-health field, reviews these and is part of a team which evaluates whether a defendant is a good match.

The team includes representatives from Genesee County Mental Health, Mental Health Association in Genesee County, ACE Employment, Horizon Village Recovery Center, GCASA, Atwater House, Genesee Justice, the D.A.'s office, public defenders' office and assigned counsel.

Desmond's job at the courthouse is to bring together a variety of providers and services to address these unique and often complicated cases.

"With the decentralization of psychiatric hospitals, people have fallen through the cracks," Desmond said. "I think this is a positive way to get people to take better care of themselves."

Of course, the major of people living with mental illness never see the inside of a courtroom because they've never broken the law. They are productive citizens who hold jobs, go to school, raise families, etc., despite their diagnoses.

The prime candidate for mental health court has committed a crime but is not a threat to others. It has been determined he or she has mental health issues that are biological in nature, apart from any other issues, like behavioral problems and substance abuse, which often compounds the complexities of these cases.

Currently, 11 people are participating in the mental health treatment court, which is held from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Batavia City Court. Their diagnoses include: traumatic brain injury, mental retardation, developmental delays, post-traumatic stress disorder and serious mental illness. Eight of the cases also have an alcohol and/or substance abuse diagnosis and are active in outpatient treatment.

For now, only people eligible to have their cases heard in Batavia City Court can participate. But if someone say, from Pavilion, also had a diagnosed substance abuse problem, a recommendation for mental health court could be considered.

"We give people opportunities to link to treatment to help themselves," Desmond said. "We focus on treatment, we monitor them and help them stay connected rather than just getting into trouble and going to jail. Somebody can live with mental illness but they function better if they are plugged in."

With the exception of hiring Desmond, there have been little or no public expenditures to create and run the mental health court, according to the judge. He admits it means more work for the public defenders' office, because the cases are often more complicated and therefore more time consuming.

But the other key entities are already in place and operating. It's just a matter of pulling the resources together, like working a puzzle, to get the best outcome, the judge said.

People who receive or qualify for SSI, Medicare and Medicaid don't have to worry about paying for treatment, thanks to taxpayers, who also foot the bill for the costs of incarceration.

But the working poor, those with only catastrophic health-care coverage and those who can't afford to pay high co-payments struggle the most in trying to fund their mental health treatments. A "sliding scale" based on the ability to pay helps.

One of the biggest problems the Mental Health Treament Court faces is the lack of bed space for treatment and the availability of housing.

"It's a systematic problem," Balbick said. "One thing that's not available here is a crisis center. In an emergency situation, our options are limited to incarceration or a civil commitment to a hospital. That's one of our challenges."

GCASA official suggests agency being captured by government to promote 'social control'

By Howard B. Owens

Interesting post from David G. Markham on the GCASA Cares blog.

We've seen comments before from readers on The Batavian that suggest that the criminal justice system is in cahoots with GCASA just to funnel substance abusers into the program to subsidize GCASA's payroll, at taxpayer expense, of course.

Markham's post suggests that there is a different attitude at GCASA.

It has been impressed on me once again that self destructive behavior should not be equated with criminal behavior. Most of the clients I evaluated were sent by the criminal justice system or other governmental bodies such as the Department of Social Services, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Probation, the courts, etc. The health care system for substance abuse disorders has been captured by government to coerce behaviors which government has determined is in its own best interest and not necessarily in the individual's. What Michel Foucault calls "governmentality" increasingly deprives individuals from their freedom. There is a fine line between whether agencies like GCASA are health care agencies whose mission is to help individuals improve their health or coercive agents of social control. It looks to me like 75% of GCASA's services are designed to exert social control and the client's right to self determination is marginalized if respected at all.

Markham has recently had to put more time into the Albion office because of the recent departure of three counselors. He's been buried in government-mandated paperwork that he says has nothing to do with ensuring good outcomes for patients.

Regulatory agencies have no viable means of measuring beneficial treatment and good outcomes, so they rely on compliance with paperwork completion as a proxy. This is a false assumption, and a dangerous way of evaluating quality care.

It sounds like something is broken in the system.

For further reading, and it's not light reading, here's the Wikipedia entry on governmentality.

New forensics course offered at GCC this fall

By Billie Owens

Genesee Community College is offering of a new criminal justice course in forensics this fall.

CRJ161 -- Introduction to Forensics -- is being added to the criminal justice curriculum.  Along with the current CRJ118 Forensic Anthropology course, the new forensics course will enhance student preparation in the CSI field (crime scene investigation).

The class is offered on Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 12:20 to 1:15 and on Friday from 12:25 to 2:25 p.m..

Taught by criminal justice faculty member Karen Wicka, Introduction to Forensics is a three-credit course that will familiarize students with the basic principles of CSI and the scientific concepts and techniques used in a forensic laboratory.

Students participate in crime-scene analysis, evidence collection and evidence preservation. They also work in a number of forensic crime labs involving various branches of forensic science including fingerprinting, toxicology, serology (the study of blood serum) and impression evidence.

Specific forensic labs include blood spatter analysis, chromatography and handwriting analysis, blood typing, DNA fingerprinting and developing fingerprints using multiple methods such as Super Glue fuming.

Wicka has taught criminal justice full time at GCC for the past year and has been an adjunct faculty member since 2001. She has also taught criminal justice and forensics with Genesee Valley BOCES for 10 years, where she set up simulated crime scenes for students to solve. She has a law degree from Albany Law School and remains current on the latest innovations in the field by attending continuing-education training sessions with top forensic experts.

In Forensic Anthropology CRJ118, students examine human skeletal remains in the context of medico-legal issues. They analyze the scientific evidence of skeletal or badly decomposed remains to establish circumstances of death, and identify the decedent by estimating age, gender, racial affinity, stature, pathologic conditions, and traumatic injury.

The course also introduces human osteology (the study of bones), and presents methods and techniques used in forensic anthropology. The course discusses case reports, contexts in which human remains are found, and methods of recovery. Forensic Anthropology is taught by Dr. Jennifer Prutsman-Pfeiffer and will be offered on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 this fall.

Prutsman-Pfeiffer is a pathologist's assistant at the University of Rochester Medical Center in autopsy pathology. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at the School of Nursing. In addition to her work at Genesee, she teaches at St. John Fisher College, and is a National Institute of Forensic Nursing faculty member.

Prutsman-Pfeiffer has served as a consulting forensic anthropologist in counties throughout western and central New York State since 2000, and she is a former member of the Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team, assisting with identification of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Students in her CRJ118 Genesee class this fall will see and learn about actual cases she has consulted on locally, and possibly participate in some aspect of real case studies that may occur during the semester.

Genesee's growing criminal justice program will soon offer a course called Emergency Management. The program will also soon be adding special concentrations within its Associate's in Applied Science curriculum. Homeland Security/Emergency Management, Forensics, Policing, Corrections Counseling or the traditional general concentration will be among the options for students to consider.

"Genesee's Criminal Justice Program has a strong history of excellence." said Barry Garigen, professor of Criminal Justice and program coordinator. "The new courses and concentrations will enhance learning and allow students to focus on emerging areas within the field while still continuing to receive the traditional educational foundation necessary to become successful criminal justice professionals."

Students can still enroll for the fall 2009 semester for any of the following three Criminal Justice degrees at Genesee Community College: an Associate's degree (A.S.), an Associate's in Applied Science degree (A.A.S.), or a certificate. The A.S. degree program prepares students to successfully transfer to a four-year institution for a baccalaureate degree in Criminal Justice or a related field. The A.A.S. degree program is designed for students preparing to enter the workforce upon graduation for a career in law enforcement, corrections, emergency management, community service or private security. The Criminal Justice certificate program prepares students for employment opportunities, or helps develop a deeper background in the field for those who are already employed within the criminal justice system.

All of Genesee's criminal justice programs may be taken in a distance-learning format.

For more  information on Genesee's Criminal Justice program, please contact Barry Garigen, Criminal Justice professor and program coordinator at 585-343-0055 x6307 or visit <>.

Conversations with Calliope- Comnmunity Service

By Joseph Langen


(Ganandagan Festival Parade)
JOE: Good afternoon Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon Joe. Where have you been?
JOE: Exploring community service opportunities.
JOE: I told you I was feeling a little confined just staying home writing and applying for AmeriCorps. Today I visited one of their participating sites and formalized my application as well.
CALLIOPE: What did you learn?
JOE: The rules for one thing. I won't bore you with the details. I did explore one project which fits my interests.
CALLIOPE; Tell me about it.
JOE: It is a project which tracks patterns of people involved in the criminal justice system.
CALLIOPE: Is that it?
JOE: No. The other part is to find funding to develop programs to meet the needs of the people identified.
CALLIOPE: Sounds ambitious.
JOE: That's what I thought. It would mean a full time commitment, perhaps a bit more than I am ready for.
CALLIOPE: So now what?
JOE: I will spend some time thinking about it and perhaps exploring some other alternatives. Talk with you tomorrow.

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