The Kiwanis Club of Batavia hosted their annual Law Day dinner on Thursday night at the Batavia Country Club and presented criminal justice awards to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell, Sheriff's Office Investigator Chad Minuto, Batavia Police Officer Jason Davis, and Le Roy Police Officer Greg Kellogg.
The theme of the Law Day event this year is "Freedom of the Press and Free Speech" so local author Bill Kauffman was the keynote speaker.
"Like most writers, I'm more or less a First Amendment absolutist in favor of the widest possible freedom of speech expression," Kauffman said.
The greatest threat to free speech these days come not from government, Kauffman said, but from big tech companies and social pressure to conform.
"There are tremendous career and social pressures to toe the line," Kauffman said. "To go along with whatever the politically correct fad of the moment is, to keep your mouth shut. Well, it's our birthright and our obligation to defy these pressures, to reject these censors and say what we think."
In small towns, such as we find in Genesee County, however, where we know each other so much better, there is greater freedom.
"I really think the possibilities of freedom are greater here in a place like this than in a big city," Kauffman said. "I'm not just saying that it's cheap boosterism or a kickback from the Chamber of Commerce. Our small or modest size is a real advantage.
"Life is lived here on a human scale, not a mass impersonal scale. We can actually know each other. If we so choose. We don't need to snipe at one another anonymously over the Internet. We can do so face to face. But the funny thing is we don't do so face to face."
Before a crowd of mostly police officers, judges, and prosecutors, Kauffman said life lived at this scale also gives them advantages not enjoyed by their big-city counterparts.
"(It is in) the intricate network of relationships in which freedom of speech becomes meaningful," Kauffman said. "Not just hot and angry air is possible here and we really are blessed. I'm not saying kids who grew up in small communities are any better than kids who grow up elsewhere.
"There's a lot of hell-raisers, as the police officers and sheriff's deputies present tonight can testify, but maybe at least we understand the back story to these hell-raisers and that makes a difference."
Top Photo: Kevin Finnell receiving his award from Chief Deputy Joseph Graff, Chief Deputy Brian Frieday, Undersheriff Brad Mazur, and Kiwanis President Mark Lewis.
Press release about the awards:
Kiwanis Club President Mark Lewis and Genesee County Bar Association President Tom Williams will be announcing the awards during an annual dinner held at Batavia Country Club on Thursday, April 25. The speaker at the dinner was local author Bill Kauffman.
Kiwanis Criminal Justice Award
The Kiwanis Club of Batavia Criminal Justice Award is presented to a member or members of the community, law enforcement, or a criminal justice agency serving the citizens of Genesee County whose exceptional career achievements and conscientiousness to citizenship have demonstrated a spirit of selfless public service or demonstrated an act of exceptional valor or heroism.
The 2019 Award Recipients are:
Assistant District Attorney Kevin T. Finnell
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell's diligent prosecution of violators pertaining to driving while intoxicated and related offenses has shown he is sincerely dedicated to the safety and welfare of the citizens of Genesee County. Mr. Finnell's knowledge of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and the full 12-step Drug Recognition Evaluation, as well as the internal and external functions of the Datamaster DMT chemical test, is a remarkable asset to the Genesee County Law Enforcement community. Mr. Finnell continually strives to develop the skills needed to successfully prosecute DWI and DWAI drug cases whether through training or educating law enforcement officers on current case law. Whenever he is involved in a hearing or a trial, he is totally prepared and our community is very fortunate that Mr. Finnell represents the People of Genesee County. Kevin Finnell was nominated for this award by Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. and Undersheriff Bradley D. Mazur.
Investigator Chad J. Minuto, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
Investigator Chad J. Minuto began his career with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office in March of 1999, when he was hired at the Genesee County Jail as a Correction Officer. He worked as a Correction Officer for two years and was then hired by the Genesee County Probation Department as a Probation Officer.
Investigator Minuto returned to the Sheriff's Office in March 2005, and began his service as a Deputy Sheriff. His work ethic and abilities led to his selection as a Field Training Officer. Minuto was promoted to the rank of Investigator in September of 2015, and has proved to be an invaluable asset to the Criminal Investigation Division of the Sheriff's Office. Investigator Minuto performs all his duties to a very high standard. This is clearly demonstrated in the thoroughness of his investigations which has led to a very high rate of resolution of cases he investigates. Investigator Minuto’s attention to detail is truly evident as he is responsible for the integrity of the evidence room where he inventories, preserves and maintains all evidence collected by the Sheriff’s Office. His meticulous work in the evidence room is vital to the criminal justice process.
Investigator Minuto also serves as a Physical Fitness Instructor, a Firearms Instructor, and is a member of the Emergency Response Team. During his career, he has been recognized with awards at the Sheriff’s Office including a DWI recognition award, Commendation Award and Officer of the Year. Throughout his law enforcement career, Investigator Minuto has proven to be a true asset to the community and to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. Investigator Minuto was nominated for this award by Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. and Undersheriff Bradley D. Mazur.
Officer Jason Davis, City of Batavia Police Department
Police Officer Jason Davis has been an integral part of the City of Batavia Police Department since being hired in 1999. He has consistently gone above and beyond in the many roles that he holds in the Department. Jason is a Field Training Officer, Drug Recognition Expert, General Topics Instructor, De-Escalation Instructor, Crisis Intervention Team Officer, is a past member of the Emergency Response Team and member of several Departmental Committees.
Officer Davis has been recognized for his work with DWI enforcement, his de-escalation techniques and dealing compassionately with vulnerable members of our community. Jason is looked up to by his peers and is one of the "go to" officers when an issue needs to be addressed. He tackles problems head on and ensures a positive resolution. Jason started his career in 1997 as a Deputy Sheriff for the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department; he also worked part-time as a police officer for the Village of Ellicottville until transferring to the City of Batavia. Jason has also been a Pack Leader for Cub Scout Pack #650. Officer Davis was nominated for this award by City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch.
Officer Gregory S. Kellogg, Village of Le Roy Police Department
Since coming to the Le Roy Police Department in January 2016, Officer Kellogg has continually worked to build community partnerships with the Le Roy School District, the Rotary Early Act Program and the Boy Scouts. Officer Kellogg has also worked at the Perry Police Department and Attica Police Department, where he received the Distinguished Service Award in 2017. He is compassionate, committed, dependable, and willing to step up and perform his duties at all times. In January 2018, Officer Kellogg received a letter of commendation for performing CPR for an extended period of time on a victim, which the family directly attributed his actions to saving the victim’s life.
Officer Kellogg coordinated and implemented the “Stuff the Cruiser” program in conjunction with Early Act, which resulted in cash and gift card donations as well as nearly 3,000 nonperishable food donations that filled five police-cruisers. Greg has a "Coffee with a Cop" mentality frequently going to local restaurants to share time with residents, joking with them, sharing stories but, more importantly, listening to their concerns.
He is actively involved coordinating and implementing the department’s “Civilian Response to an Active Shooter Event” training program which has been presented to several community members, local businesses and churches. He is a general topics instructor, firearms instructor, field training officer, accreditation manager, and Taser instructor.
Officer Kellogg is also employed at Six Flags Darien Lake Theme Park as a Police Supervisor, overseeing approximately 30 police officers, and is responsible for all security training. His daily conscientiousness to citizenship and a spirit of selfless public service are a model that young officers in the Le Roy Police Department try to emulate. Officer Kellogg was nominated for this award by Village of Le Roy Police Chief Christopher K. Hayward.
Charles L. Mancuso Mock Trial Award
The “Charles L. Mancuso Award” was presented to the members of the Batavia High School Mock Trial Team as winners of the 2019 GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties) District Competition in the New York State Bar Association High School Mock Trial Tournament. The award reads “Dedicated to the Memory of an Outstanding Attorney-Citizen." Mr. Mancuso, a Batavia lawyer, served as coordinator of the local competition until his untimely death 12 years ago.
The Batavia High School team members honored at the dinner include: Sophie Beckman, Brianna Bromley, Charles Burton, Eryn Dunn, Kathleen Folger, Tate Fonda, Ariana Frias, Dallas Lama, Amari McNair, Natalie Rogers, Corinne Saluste, Julia Spiotta, Teacher-Coach Theresa Traver, and Attorney Advisor Ethan Kraybill. Coordinator of the local Mock Trial Program, Kristie DeFreze, presented the award.
Chad Minuto receiving his award.
Officer Jason Davis with Chaplain Green, Chief Shawn Heubusch, Councilwoman Patti Pacino, and City Manager Martin Moore.
Officer Greg Kellogg and Detective John Condidorio.
Some of the members of the Batavia High School Mock Trial Team.