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July 27, 2022 - 9:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Steven C. Sharpe, Emergency Dispatch, news, notify.

5e9b1bd924284.sharpe.jpgSteven C. Sharpe, director of emergency communications for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, has resigned his position effective Sept. 3, according to a memo Sheriff William Sheron sent to department personnel today.

In an email to The Batavian, Sheron confirmed Sharpe's resignation but did not address a question about why he resigned.

"Search for his replacement will begin shortly," Sheron said. "There will be no interruption to dispatch services."

The Batavian did not attempt to contact Sharpe until after hours.  This post will be updated with any response we receive.

Sharpe was instrumental in migrating the Emergency Dispatch Center to the Phase II P-25 TDMA system radio system installed by Harris RF in 2013.

In 2016, Sharpe, an Air Force veteran, was named PSAP (Public Safety Access Point) Finest Director of the Year award. The award was sponsored by emergency communications company NICE.

April 14, 2022 - 8:17pm
posted by Press Release in 911 Center, Emergency Dispatch, news.
2director_steven_c_sharpe.jpg asst_director_francis_a_riccobono.jpg sr_dispatcher_michael_t_sheflin.jpg
Director Steven Sharpe Asst. Director Francis Riccobono Sr. Dispatcher Michael Sheflin
sr_dispatcher_john_w_spencer.jpg dispatcher_stephen_r_smelski.jpg dispatcher_samantha_l_conibear.jpg
Sr. Dispatcher John Spencer Stephen Smelski Samantha Conibear
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John Eddy Kelly Smith Cady Glor
moskal_-_emily.jpg turner_-_shelby_cropped.jpg grimes.jpg
Emily Moskal Shelby Turner Matthew Grimes

Press release:

In 1991, a formal Congressional resolution acknowledged the vital role that telecommunicators play in emergency situations by proclaiming the second week in April as a week of annual recognition in their honor.  National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week is a time to thank these men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving the public.  Last year, Governor Hochul signed a bill designating “first responder” status to all 911 operators and dispatchers across New York State, recognizing that they are the first responders of first responders.

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr., along with the Genesee County Legislature and all emergency first responders, recognize these public safety professionals for their continued dedication, professionalism, and commitment to public service.  The Genesee County Legislature will be issuing a proclamation at its Wednesday night meeting recognizing April 10 – 16, 2022, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week.  The lights on the Old County Courthouse cupola will be changed to red, white and blue to acknowledge this week. 

Emergency Services 9-1-1 Dispatchers are there 24/7, 365 days a year for police, fire and emergency medical personnel and the public in time of need.  Many people do not think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience actual emergencies themselves.  In many instances, Dispatchers make the difference between life and death.  Typically, over 80,000 events are dispatched yearly, a daily average of 219, and over 100,000 telephone calls are handled, which is an average of 273 calls per day.  The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (Public Safety Answering Point-PSAP) is comprised of 25 men and women who dispatch to 5 local police agencies/New York State Police; 19 fire departments/Emergency Management Service; 3 ambulance services; as well as 41 other local, county, regional, state, and federal agencies.

“Everyday citizens depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of the 9-1-1 Dispatchers.  They are the first to take that phone call; the first to provide basic life support in a medical emergency; and also the first to dispatch needed fire, police or EMS responders for the call.  They are to be recognized and commended during this very special week.  I would like to personally extend my sincere appreciation for their hard work and dedication.  They are truly unsung heroes in our community,” stated Sheriff Sheron.                                         

February 1, 2021 - 6:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch, news, Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

Emergency Services Dispatcher Lynn B. Riccobono, a 27-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, has retired effective last Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Riccobono started her career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on March 8, 1983.   

Through her career, Dispatcher Riccobono has earned several awards including six Commendation Awards, a Certificate of Appreciation, and a Meritorious Award for continuous excellence.

She spent the majority of her career working overnights serving the citizens of Genesee County while most were sleeping. For those needing emergency care, Dispatcher Riccobono was the voice at the other end of the line doing her best to keep callers calm while dispatching the needed urgent care.

“Emergency Services Dispatcher Lynn B. Riccobono has demonstrated great professionalism throughout her 27 years of employment,” Sheriff Sheron said. “Everyone here at the Sheriff’s Office wishes her all the best for her future.”

January 30, 2020 - 11:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Emergency Dispatch, batavia, news, notify.


In 30 years as an emergency dispatcher, Steve Robinson has probably handled every imaginable kind of call, first with the City of Batavia and later with the Sheriff's Office -- lost cats, petit larcenies, fires, train derailments, overdoses, homicides, and everything in between.

It's a tough job but on the night of his final shift, he said he is glad he chose the job he did as a young man.

"It's been an amazing career," Robinson said. "I've made a lot of friends -- with other dispatchers, judges, DAs, police officers, EMS, fire -- everybody involved in the whole process. I couldn't have asked for a better career for 30 years. It's not pretty sometimes. We deal with a lot of unpleasant stuff, but we get through it and I appreciate everybody I've worked with, and I've gotten a lot of help over the years."

To be a good dispatcher, Robinson said, you have to be able to multitask. You can find yourself dealing with a police officer on the radio about one call while taking an emergency call from an unrelated incident on 9-1-1. 

"There is a lot of activity in the room and you can't rely on somebody else to answer your phone for you," Robinson said.

And because you're sometimes dealing with people in duress, at the worse time of their lives, or who are angry, you have to have good people skills to be a good dispatcher. You have to be able to stay calm, talk people through their situations and ensure first responders are kept safe.

"The people I work with, not just the dispatchers, but the first responders, we have a bond because nobody else understands what we do," Robinson said. "In this job, unless you do it, you can't understand what we deal with and that is what bonds us."

In retirement, Robinson will still be around, and not far from the career he's loved. He will continue to work part time for Batavia PD as a desk clerk.

"I'll keep a hand in the business," Robinson said. "I'm not totally walking away."

April 11, 2018 - 3:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch, news.


Press release:

In 1991, a formal Congressional resolution acknowledged the vital role that telecommunicators play in emergency situations by proclaiming the second week in April as a week of annual recognition in their honor. National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week is a time to thank these men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving the public.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recognizes and commends the County’s 9-1-1 dispatchers for their dedication, professionalism and commitment to public service.

9-1-1 dispatchers are there 24/7, 365 days a year for first responders and the public in time of need. Many people do not think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience actual emergencies themselves. In many instances, 9-1-1 dispatchers make the difference between life and death.

More than 93,000 events were dispatched in 2017, a daily average of 255, and more than 120,000 telephone calls were handled last year, which is an average of 329 calls per day.

The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (Public Safety Answering Point-PSAP) is comprised of 24 men and women who dispatch to five local police agencies/New York State Police; 19 fire departments/Emergency Management Service; threee ambulance services; as well as 41 other local, county, regional, state and federal agencies.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recognizes these public safety professionals who have worked so hard during this past year. Every day citizens depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of the 9-1-1 dispatchers. They are the first to take that phone call; the first to provide basic life support in a medical emergency; and also the first to dispatch needed fire, police or EMS responders for the call.

They are to be recognized and commended.

Photos by Howard Owens.


August 1, 2017 - 8:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 911 Center, Emergency Dispatch, news.

Non-emergency phone numbers for the 9-1-1 Center are currently not working.

You can still phone in an emergency by dialing 9-1-1, but if you're trying to reach a dispatcher, or Batavia PD, or Le Roy PD, or the Sheriff's Office, with a non-emergency call, the usual numbers are not working.

Batavia PD can be contacted for non-emergencies at (585) 345-6351.  The administrative lines are (585) 345-6444.

Le Roy PD and the Sheriff's Office can be reached at (585) 343-5000.

However, if you have an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

April 13, 2017 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch, news.


Six supervisors from the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center were on hand at the opening of the County Legislature meeting yesterday evening to accept a proclamation from Chairman Ray Cianfrini declaring April 9-15 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

Cianfrini said the proclamation recognizes the hard work and dedication of Genesee County's emergency dispatchers.

March 11, 2017 - 1:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, Emergency Dispatch.

Take the six hours between noon and 6 p.m. on Wednesday and Genesee County dispatchers handled more calls for service, 428, than any other full day in the known history of emergency dispatch for the county. 

And that's just six hours.

For the full day, dispatchers received 620 calls for service. There were 706 dispatch events, 507 9-1-1 calls, 597 seven-digit emergency calls, 12,350 monitored radio transmissions, 38,953 total radio transmissions and the on-air time for dispatchers was 36 hours and three minutes. (Calls for service does not include canceled calls or consolidated calls. Monitored radio transmissions do not include transmissions to highway departments, public works and other talk groups not normally monitored by dispatch.)

Wednesday, of course, was the day Genesee County got hit with a windstorm that may have included gusts up to 80 mph. As a result, more than 12,000 National Grid customers locally were left without electricity, trees were downed, trucks were overturned and homes were damaged.

There was also a four-unit apartment fire in Batavia, a pellet stove fire in Pavilion, and a train derailment east of Donahue Road.

"It was definitely the busiest day in the entire history of emergency dispatch," said Steven Sharpe, director of emergency communications. "It was definitely a hectic room, but we have some extraordinary people so we're not running around with heads cut off. We have our heads down, plowing ahead and taking care of business as each call came in. It was very business-like but we worked our way through it."

A normal shift of three or four people swelled quickly to 11 dispatchers in the communications center on Park Road as the calls came flooding in for reports of power lines down, arcing and sparking wires, accidents and the normal medical emergencies.

"It started off like any other day, then one thing leads to another and it starts adding up," said Sgt. Jason Holman, that day's dispatch center supervisor.

One of the more experienced dispatchers in the center as winds started to kick up was Nate Fix.

"I personally worked the ice storm of 2006 and the tornado in 2009 and we've had some tough, large storms, but I've never seen that many calls and dispatches," Fix said.

Sharp, who working with Russ Lang as kind of floater support in dispatch, Holman and Fix all described a nonstop call volume that didn't let up from minute-to-minute for the duration of the storm.

The storm combined intensity and duration to make for a very busy day for dispatchers.

Sheriff William Sheron said he was really proud of the job dispatchers did during the storm.

The fire at 404 S. Jackson at 10:30 a.m. struck just as winds started to pick up, but before their full force hit the county.

"When that came in, there wasn't a real relation for us to the wind," Holman said. "The process was more day-to-day operations and you get through it and you make sure everyone responding has the information they need to know."

Winds didn't get strong until after the fire was pretty much out.

Then came the train derailment.

Russ Lang took the call, but Nate Fix was working Sheriff's dispatch so he was the first to notify patrols.

He put the word out in a single sentence, calm and in control, but knowing an incident like that could be bad.

"My dad was the Corfu chief in '94," Fix said, recalling the most recent train derailment in the county. "I remember the tones going off and it was still dark outside. I was 12 or 13 and I probably shouldn't have gone on the call, but I rode along with him and I remember people walking out of the woods in the fog. My first instinct (on this call) was to make sure there were no people involved. There wasn't, so that changed my thinking. We don't need ambulances. We just need people there to check if anything is leaking."

With the wind, Fix said, we're fortunate there was nothing toxic on the train, because the wind would have carried it right into the city.

"A lot of things go through your mind when a call like that comes in," Holman said.

Fortunately, the train derailment was nothing more than a property-damage accident, but that was still near the start of a multi-hour effort to field all the calls coming in.

Holman said, though, for all the work and all the stress on dispatchers, the real burden of the day was on the deputies, troopers, firefighters, medics, and highway personnel who actually had to respond to all those calls for service.

"We do our part, but we've got some protection," Holman said. "We're not dealing with the hazards. We try to get the information out to them as fast as we can, so my hat goes off to those guys out in the field. When it comes down to it, we've got the easy job."

With that many calls coming in, coordination and professionally handling priorities are essential to staying on top of the call volume, both Holman and Fix said. Every call is logged in the dispatch computer and all things being equal, calls are handled in the order received, but anything that involves the potential for loss of life -- a fire, an accident with entrapment, wires trapping somebody in a car or a house, gets a priority dispatch.

Dispatchers know, Fix said, that their first priority is to take care of the people in the field and the people calling in for help. Dispatchers have to stay calm in the midst of chaos and assure callers that help will arrive as soon as possible, then calmly pass the information on to responders.

But while dispatchers are taking care of everybody else, they also have their own concerns, Fix said, as does every other emergency responder.

"...the hardest thing for any emergency worker, especially for the volunteer firefighters, is they don't know what's going on with their own families because they’re going nonstop with no time to think of their family," Fix said. "I’m not sure people understand that or appreciate it."

Fix noted that Genesee County was fortunate in another way -- a storm in March isn't that unusual, but one without snow or rain is. Snow or rain could have made things so much worse.

"It still just blows my mind that we got a windstorm in March and no snow or rain with it," Fix said. That’s just remarkable this time of year."

October 19, 2016 - 8:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Emergency Dispatch, batavia, news.


Once a year, the Sheriff's Office is required to test its backup emergency dispatch center and tonight's the night for dispatchers to work out of the location at 14 W. Main St., instead of their normal home on Park Road.

The facility is configured exactly like Park Road for an easy transition from one location to the other.

The backup facility would be used if Park Road couldn't be used for some reason.

The room in the old Sheriff's Office on West Main was the dispatch center for the Sheriff's Office for decades before the Park Road office was built.

These days, emergency dispatchers handle all traffic in the county for the Sheriff's road patrols, Batavia PD, Le Roy PD, State Police and the fire departments.

Dispatchers handle somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 calls for service annually.

August 31, 2016 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch, Steve Sharpe, news.


Photo, from left: Undersheriff Bill Sheron, Joseph Grube, Steve Sharpe and Sheriff Gary Maha.

Steve Sharpe, director of communications for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, was honored yesterday with an industry award that recognizes his dedication to the profession and his job.

The PSAP (Public Safety Access Point) Finest Director of the Year award was selected by industry professionals from a national pool of nominees.

The award was sponsored by emergency communications company NICE and presented by Joseph Grube, director of public safety for Wilmac, another public safety company.

Grube said Sharp was selected based on his habits of lifelong learning, his self-motivation toward excellence, his involvement in several industry associations and groups and his advocacy for the 25 staff members who report to him in ensuring they have the best equipment and training.

“The public safety community is a better place because of people like Steve,” Grube said.

Sharp said the award really reflects what a great team he has around him, from the County Legislature that supports professional emergency communication, to the Sheriff's Office administration, to the dispatchers in the emergency dispatch center, nothing would be possible without their hard work and dedication, he said.

“I think the biggest thing people have got  to understand is it's about the team," Sharpe said. "It’s always going to be about the team. It’s the people you put in the right place. It’s about learning. I’ve had some pretty spectacular failures as a leader, and I’ve had some pretty spectacular failures here in this job, but my failures were mitigated by their strengths. It all comes back to team.”

April 17, 2015 - 9:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch.

Press release:

April 13 – 19 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recognizes and commends the County’s 9-1-1 dispatchers for their dedication, professionalism and commitment to public service.

9-1-1 dispatchers are there 24/7,365 days a year for first responders and the public in time of need. Many people don’t think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience actual emergencies themselves. In many instances, 9-1-1 dispatchers make the difference between life and death.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recognizes these public safety professionals who have worked so hard during this past year. Every day, citizens depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of the 9-1-1 dispatchers. They are the first to take that phone call, the first to provide basic life support in a medical emergency, and also dispatch needed fire, police or EMS responders for the call. They are to be recognized and commended.

February 27, 2015 - 6:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch.

Press release:

Genesee County Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher James E. Tripp has been selected by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute to receive its 2014 “Emergency Communicators Award.” The award was presented to Senior Dispatcher Tripp at the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Conference held in Albany this week.

Senior Dispatcher Tripp was nominated by Genesee County Sheriff Gary T. Maha because he has exhibited an exceptional degree of dedication and commitment to the professional fulfillment of his duties during his 21 years of service. Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher Tripp started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time dispatcher on July 12, 1993. On January 6, 1996, Jim was appointed a full-time, permanent dispatcher and pursuant to a change in Civil Service Rules and Regulations, his title was changed to Emergency Services Dispatcher on June 7, 1999. On May 23, 2008, Jim was appointed a Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher.

As a Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher, Jim is in charge of a shift at the Genesee County Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), under the supervision and administration of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. He is also a certified Communications Training Officer (CTO) and has trained several new dispatchers during his tenure with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Jim has also taken on additional duties over the years including: Terminal Access Coordinator for NYSPIN and the Integrated Justice Portal; PSAP Accreditation; and he serves as a Telecommunications Emergency Response Team Leader. Jim is the recipient of two Commendation Awards, one Meritorious Service Award and was twice awarded the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Distinguished Service Award (2001 & 2011). 

He is respected by his peers and colleagues and is a leader in the field of emergency dispatching. Jim and his wife, Terry, have three children and three grandchildren. Two of his children are also emergency service dispatchers with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

February 27, 2015 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Emergency Dispatch.

Every evening the on-duty fire dispatcher comes on-air at 1800 hours with a time check, temperature and any fire service announcements.

Tonight the dispatcher informed us "current temperature is 91 degrees," but as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she corrected herself.

"Nine degrees."

Wishful thinking, maybe?

January 27, 2015 - 12:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Le Roy, Emergency Dispatch, communications.

They call it "the Lt. Whitcomb incident," Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante told the City Council Monday night.

Jeff Whitcomb, a city fire officer, was leading a group of firefighters into a burning building at Ellicott and Swan streets Sept. 18 when he tried to radio critical information to his scene commander, Chief Jim Maxwell.

Whitcomb couldn't get a "grant tone."

That radio message comes from the dispatch center and signals the radio channel is clear and the responder in the field can transmit. Without it, the radio in the responder's hand is not much more than a brick.

After the meeting, Maxwell confirmed there was an issue with Whitcomb's attempt to transmit that day.

"What happened there was the lieutenant was inside and he was trying to radio out and he couldn't, so we thought it was a system failure because he couldn't get the grant tone," Maxwell said. "After we submitted the problem report we got a response back from Harris that the system worked the way it was supposed (to). We were operating at the fire ground on the same channel they dispatch on and dispatch has priority."

The inability for a firefighter in a burning building to transmit, even if only delayed by seconds, can mean the difference between life and death.

"This was a major turning point for us," DiFante said. "That's when I went to my boss and said, 'oh, boy, Mr. Molino, we've got to do something about this.' "

DiFante recognized immediately that not only were lives at stake, but as a matter of her fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers, the city faced a potentially monstrous liability issue if police officers and firefighters were saddled with a communication system that made them vulnerable in moments of crisis.

A year ago, the county switched communication systems for police and fire to a $10 million digital system designed and built by Rochester-based Harris RF.

The need for the new system was largely driven by the FCC and Homeland Security, with a goal of freeing up the frequencies used by the old system and improving interoperability between local departments on a nationwide basis.

The grant money available for the new system came with a hard deadline for launching the Harris system.

Typically, a new communications system can be tested and refined over an 18-month period, which is what Ontario County did, DiFante said.

Genesee County got no time to test its new system before the old system was shut down.

When DiFante researched the issue, she found other jurisdictions facing similar issues with the Harris system. Miami-Dade County had to buy a new system. Las Vegas is tied up in a lawsuit with Harris. Oakland PD has had trouble, including 35 minutes of downtime when President Obama was in town.

The issue, however, she said, isn't with Harris. It's the nature of digital technology. Anybody with cable TV, she said, understands that digital technology is subject to disruption.

"Digital technology is great when it works, but when it doesn't, it causes things to happen," DiFante said.

So DiFante asked her contact at Harris which agency was doing the best with the new system, and she was told, without a doubt, Ontario County.

In her first contact with a communications director in Ontario County, he had a reaction she found common during her research -- those poor people in Genesee County.

"You know what he said -- everybody says the same thing when you tell them you're from Genesee County, 'you know what Gretchen, those poor people over in Genesee County and what they had to do,' " DiFante said.

From Ontario County, she was given the name of a consultant whom Harris is now paying to help the county resolve some of the issues facing the system.

This research, she said, led to the City Fire Department changing its communication protocol.

The volunteer departments in the county are going to the same procedure.

It won't be until March, DiFante said, before all the radios are reprogrammed.

The new system will require scene commanders to carry two radios. One will be used for communicating with dispatch. The other will be tuned to an analog tactical channel, which will be the channel used by firefighters use to communicate with each other while at a fire scene.

There will no longer be an issue with dispatch communications taking priority on the same channel with firefighter-to-firefighter communication.

There remain issues with the system DiFante said, though things have improved dramatically for both the police department and fire department over the past several months.

"We're very close to resolution," DiFante said. "What's happened since October is exciting. I can sleep better at night. This is the only thing that has kept me awake at night since I started my job."

Chief Shawn Heubusch agreed that when the new radio system was first introduced, he was troubled by the communications issues and concerned about the safety of his officers.

"There are some issues, as with any new product that is out there," Heubusch said. "It's constantly being tweaked. As she mentioned, it takes 18 months to vet these things. We didn't have that kind of time, so to put one consultant's words out there, 'we watched sausage being made.' Nobody wants to see sausage being made."

While DiFante held up folders full of trouble reports filed by the city with the county about the radio system, Heubusch said most of those trouble reports were filed months ago.

"They've made great strides in correcting the issues," Heubusch said.

Sheriff Gary Maha confirmed this morning that the county has not received a trouble report from the city since November.

Every radio system has its own issues, Heubusch said. The old system had dead spots in the city, and going back even further, when dispatch was handled by City PD, officers knew there were certain buildings -- such as the Harvester complex -- where they would be out of radio contact while inside.

"There are certain inherent dangers to public safety work that we kind of just take for granted, that we understand are out there," Heubusch said. "Digital technology has come a long way since it was implemented and again we are working on the issues that are in play with this system now and they've made great strides in making our officers and fire officers much safer."

There are issues, DiFante said, with gain control and voice fluctuations.

She also said there are still significant issues with coverage areas in Le Roy, but declined during her presentation to go into detail.

We spoke with Chief Chris Hayward, Le Roy PD, this morning and he confirmed there are ongoing issues that the county and Harris are working diligently to try and resolve.

There's one section of the village and some sections of the Town of Le Roy where the radios don't work well.

With the old system, the county had three antenna towers. The new system has six. One is on Cedar Street in Batavia, three are on the west end of the county, and there is one in Bergen and another in Pavilion.

There isn't a tower in the middle of the east side of the county.

A solution to Le Roy's dead-spot issue might be constructing a tower on Asbury Road.

Putting in a repeater at that location was the solution in the 1990s when Le Roy PD and Fire had reception issues with the old system.

Harris is running tests this week to try and identify any technology in the area that might be creating interference. At one time, there was concern that the LED lights on police cars were causing interference, but that has been ruled out, Hayward said.

As for using a tac channel for firefighters, he said the Le Roy Fire Department came upon that solution to its communication issues soon after the new radios were operational.

Hayward said he understands the county was put in this situation through no fault of its own and believes all involved are working to make things right.

"Hindsight is 20/20 and you can always ask, 'Why didn't think of this or why didn't think of that?' but I think they did a pretty good job of thinking ahead," Hayward said.

Heubusch also expressed confidence that everything possible is being done to ensure the county has a safe and reliable communications system for its emergency responders.

"It's the number-one priority with the county," Heubusch said. "It's the number-one priority with the city. It's the number-one priority with Harris -- keep everybody out there safe."

DiFante's presentation was only a portion of her 40-minute talk in front of City Council, which was really about all of the work she's done since becoming assistant city manager.

Her overall responsibilities include overseeing administrative services, including finance, the clerk-treasure, personnel, information technology, the youth bureau and assessment; as well as programs such as the community rating system and insurance, with additional projects such as how to handle a burgeoning population of feral cats, the Redfield gateway and strategic planning.

February 26, 2014 - 4:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch.

It may not have gone off without a hitch -- some users had a learning curve -- but the new emergency communication system in Genesee County is fully functional.

There were rumors of technical problems with the new system, including problems with the Pavilion tower, but trusted sources along with Sheriff Gary Maha said the Harris system has performed as it should since the switch over shortly after 7 a.m.

The $10.8 million system -- paid for largely with federal grants and a local bond -- is technically identical to the communication system all police and fire units across the United States are converting to, which will help improve inter-agency communications in regional and national emergencies.

"We've been using the system all day and handled a number of calls -- accidents, shoplifters, calls for service -- and so far so good," Maha said. "It's gone as smooth as could be expected."

Owners of the new Uniden P-25-compatiable scanners locally are reporting spotty success in picking up fire and police transmission. The scanners do work, but reception is not always reliable.

Here at The Batavian, we don't have our new scanner fully programmed yet, so can't report on how it's working out for us.

The Sheriff's Office also switched to a new digital phone system. That transition didn't go as smoothly, Maha admitted, but the phones appear to be working properly now.

September 23, 2011 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch.

Press release:

Four Emergency Services dispatchers from the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center, a division of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, were deployed to Broome County after the recent devastation to that area by hurricanes Irene and Lee.

Broome County Coordinator Michael Ballard requested assistance from his state counterparts to cover shifts beginning Sept. 9 through 13. Staff from Genesee County worked 12-hour shifts answering phone lines and entering calls for service into the CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) System to dispatch the appropriate emergency service.

Along with several Broome County Emergency Services dispatchers who were personally affected by the storms, remaining staff were becoming fatigued with the long hours and several days of continual requests from citizens for emergency services. Local authorities quickly realized that additional outside resources would be needed to staff its 9-1-1 Center. 

The New York State’s Office of Emergency Management contacted local Emergency Management offices, including Genesee County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger, for additional resources to respond to the Broome County 9-1-1 Center.

One very important stipulation was that the deployment not severely impact the operations of the local 9-1-1 centers that send aid. Without impacting operations at the Genesee County 9-1-1 Center, four Emergency Services dispatchers were deployed within 18 hours of the request. 

Senior Emergency Services dispatchers Gary Diegelman, James Tripp, Daniel Rieks and Emergency Services Dispatcher Robert Tripp are certified members of the New York State Telecommunicator Emergency Response Task Force (TERT), a specialized team trained to handle large-scale incidents or disasters.

In conjunction with other Emergency Services dispatchers from Livingston, Niagara and Monroe counties, they deployed to Broome County (which includes the City of Binghamton) on Sept. 9 through 11.

This team of specialized Emergency Services dispatchers was created after the events of September 11, 2001. Several other agencies within New York State have members who are certified to handle these types of large-scale events.

Genesee County currently has nine Emergency Services dispatchers who are certified to respond in this capacity.  While rare, team members could be summoned not only to handle emergencies within New York State but also to assist other participating states.

Since this program’s inception, Emergency Services dispatchers from Genesee County have been requested on two occasions. In 2006, during the floods of Broome County, Emergency Services dispatchers were put on standby, however, did not need to respond. The second was the most recent request received on Sept. 8.

Broome County has been declared a disaster area, therefore, any costs or expenses incurred by Genesee County in the deployment will be reimbursed by state and federal funds.

Photos: Top, Jim Tripp; first inset, Bob Tripp; second inset, Gary Diegelman; bottom, Dan Rieks.

(Initial Post)

September 9, 2011 - 3:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Dispatch.

As counties on the east end of the state continue to struggle with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, emergency workers in Genesee County continue to pitch in and do what they can to help.

Currently, four of the Sheriff's Office emergency dispatchers are being deployed for a couple of days in Broome County.

The will provide a "much needed break," as one dispatcher put it, to the overextended crew in Broome.

Sheriff Gary Maha said interagency cooperation like this is common in New York.

He also praised the dispatchers making the trip.

"It shows they care," Maha said. "We try to help other counties whenever we can."

All expenses incurred by the Sheriff's Office for the deployment will be reimbursed by Broome County, Maha said.

Last week, volunteer firefighters from five departments traveled to Schoharie County. Besides helping with clean-up work, the volunteers also ended up working a structure fire about 30 miles from their base.

Another deployment of volunteer firefighters from Genesee County to the storm-ravaged region is being planned.

May 17, 2010 - 10:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Gary Maha, Emergency Dispatch.

If you have a mobile phone in New York, each month you pay a $1.20 surcharge for "New York State Public Safety" that you might think goes to pay for emergency dispatch.

If you think that, you're mistaken, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Last year, the surcharge generated $210 million in revenue, of which about $9 million was allocated to dispatch centers.

The balance of the fund, Maha said, goes straight into the state's General Fund for any number of non-law-enforcement related purposes.

Last year, Genesee County -- which spends $2 million each year to operate its dispatch center -- received just $38,000 from this fund.

“We need to keep the pressure on the state that this money should be used for what it’s intended for and not used to pay for general fund expenses," Maha told the County's Public Safety Committee today.

The committee passed a draft resolution to send to the State Legislature asking them to use the money according to its intended purposes.

The fund used to be called the 9-1-1 Surcharge, but even with the "public safety" label, the revenue is rarely being used to pay for public safety expenses, Maha said.

There is also a county-collected 35-cent surcharge on landlines for the dispatch center. But increasingly, people are abandoning landlines in favor of mobile phones, cutting down significantly on the amount of revenue this fund generates, Maha said.

Governor Paterson has proposed that $50 million from the surcharge monies, or about 21 percent, be made available to county 9-1-1 centers, Maha said.

The proposal has met with stiff opposition in the State Legislature.

The State Assembly proposes that only $8 million above last year's $9.3 million funding be provided to county 9-1-1 centers. Many think that the Legislature will take all of these monies to help fill the approximately $9 billion budget deficit facing the state, Maha said.

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