LIVE: Interview with Shawn Heubusch, chief of police, Batavia
Interview with Shawn Heubusch, chief of police, Batavia.
Interview with Shawn Heubusch, chief of police, Batavia.
While doing renovation work in his home, Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch found under his old flooring layers old newspapers, all from 1927.
The headlines help tell a story of at least one case that should be of interest to a lawman: The escape, escapades, and eventual capture of Floyd Wilcox.
Wilcox, of Oakfield, escaped from Genesee County Jail, presumably to avoid a possible sentence of life in prison after his fourth felony arrest, this time for grand larceny, under the recently enacted Baumes Law.
According to the articles, Wilcox (aka Floyd Gill), and an associate convinced a farmer to give them gas with a promise to pay once they were fueled up. When the duo drove back by the farm and didn't stop to pay, the farmer pulled out his pistol and started firing at the fleeing vehicle. The farmer jumped in his own truck and gave chase. A short time later, he found the abandoned vehicle with a flat tire from a bullet and spotted the two men running over a hill.
Later, Wilcox was a suspect in a safe-crack job in Hornell and a stealing a vehicle in Rochester. He was eventually apprehended by a Batavia PD officer on a street in the city. A subhead in the Batavia Daily News reads, "Did Not Try Very Hard to Keep Out of Reach of the Authorities."
Chief Heubusch isn't the only person finding old newspapers in old homes these days. The 1942 edition of the Batavia Daily News was found by our contractor in a wall of our house, which is undergoing renovations following our fire in April.
One of the stories is about an Army officer accused of sedition for distributing "America First" literature. It turns out, the publication of this story by Associated Press was controversial because the Army released the information to a reporter on a stipulation that no newspapers in the nation run it with only a one-column headline. Many editors found this AP requirement an unethical bargain giving the government power to dictate the nature of coverage. You can read about it in this book on Google Books.
Statement from Chief Shawn Heubusch, Batavia PD:
Due to the ongoing events that are unfolding across our country and within our region I have received questions about the Department's use of force policy and what is done to ensure that our police officers do not abuse their authority or use excessive force.
Attached is the Department's Use of Force Policy that every member of the City of Batavia Police Department receives training on annually. The policy adheres to all Local, State and Federal laws, guidelines and follows best practices. The policy puts human life above everything and ensures that every member has a duty to intercede in situations where the use of force of another officer is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances present at that time. Each situation is unique and officers are asked to make split second decisions to keep the public safe.
I am proud of each member of our Department, they discharge their duties in a professional, compassionate manner each and every day. Your police officers are well trained, well equipped, caring community-oriented individuals that work extremely hard to bring peace to chaotic situations and serve the public with the utmost. I am also very grateful for the community support that we receive from the vast majority of our residents and business owners. Together we make the City of Batavia a better place to live, work and play.
Use of Force Policy (PDF)
Also, we discussed the use of force policy in this interview:
Interview with Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch. We will be talking at 10:30 a.m. about the killing of George Floyd and the events, both nationally and locally, that have followed.
Genesee County's top cop, Sheriff Gary Maha, said Batavia's new chief of police, Shawn Heubusch, should be given a chance to show what he can do before being criticized publicly.
Heubusch has been on the job for only about a week and City Council President Tim Buckley, a retired city police officer, publicly questioned Heubusch's qualifications. Today, however, Buckley struck a different tone.
"I wish the chief the best of luck in the world and I hope he's successful," Buckley said. "That's from the bottom of my heart."
Maha had a part in the interview process and said he certainly welcomes Heubusch to the local law enforcement community and has pledged his assistance to Heubusch whenever he requests it.
"Chief Heubusch was on the Police Chief Civil Service eligible list so he is certainly qualified in that sense," Maha said in a written statement. "I say give the guy a chance and don't criticize him right from the beginning as the new Police Chief."
Buckley said, "Well, I guess that was directed at me and I think it's a fair statement."
"I may have spoken too quickly," Buckley added. "I might have more emotion about it than anything, having been in the department for 23 years."
There were three people in the department Buckley said he thought were qualified to do the job, but reiterated that he wishes the best for Heubusch.
Sources say Buckley's initial remarks were discussed in a closed door session among city council members on Monday night.
After the meeting, council members Jim Russell and Patti Pacino said Heubusch was vetted by a "highly qualified" selection committee and they support City Manager Jason Molino's decision.
"We told him to go pick someone," Russell said. "He went and picked someone, so now it’s not time to say, ‘no not that one.’ He did what he was supposed to do. I really don’t have a problem with it."
Pacino said she believed the majority of the council feels the same way.
Councilman Kris Doeringer was unable to attend Monday's meeting and wasn't part of the closed door discussion, but he agreed that hiring Heubusch was Molino's decision and he backed it.
"Past councils voted to let Jason hire the chief," Doeringer said. "I have my confidence in him that he's hiring the right person. I don't see any problem with his hire at all, so I'm more on the side of supporting Jason and that he hired the right person."
The hiring process for chief of police is governed both by New York's civil service law and the city charter. Candidates must be qualified -- which includes taking an exam and having prior experience at a supervisory level -- and under the city charter, the final decision rests with the city manager.
As part of this process, Molino created an interview committee, which consisted of some city staff members and local community leaders, such as Maha, Bank of Castile CEO Jim Fulmer and business educator Barb Shine.
The interview committee is not required either under civil service law nor the city's charter.
Each candidate was given a phone interview and those that made it to the next round were interviewed in person, then they were brought in to see how they react to various scenarios. The candidates had 15 minutes to review a scenario and then answer a series of questions.
The candidates who continued through the process were then given a series of lengthy written scenarios and allowed 48 hours to submit written responses.
After the interview process, the interview committee took several hours over several meetings to review the candidates.
He said Heubusch was a "consensus pick."
"It's not just me making a decision in a vacuum," Molino said. "It's a thorough review process."
Molino said he's confident about the committee's selection.
"I think Chief Heubusch is an excellent leader with great character and I look forward to working with him during these exciting times," Molino said.
Monday was Heubusch's first chance to meet city council members and members of the local media. After the meeting he chatted with reporters and said he was excited by the opportunity to serve Batavia.
"It’s a great city," Heubusch said. "The department has great resources, mainly the men. They’re the best resource the department has."
Heubusch comes from a family with deep roots in Wyoming County, where he was raised and graduated from high school (Warsaw) in 1993.
He said he knows Genesee County well because as his family was growing up, Batavia was the place to shop and do things.
"This is where we traveled to do our business," Heubusch said.
In 1997, he graduated from Rural Police Training Institute at Genesee Community College and soon after went to work for the Village of Warsaw PD for seven years before being promoted to assistant chief in 2004.
With the new job, Heubusch, who has three children ages 20, 10 and 7, saw his base salary jump from more than $55,000 in Warsaw to $70,000 in Batavia.
When asked about Buckley's comments questioning his qualifications, Heubusch said, "I don’t have any comment on this issue. This is a matter for the council to take up."
Asked if he was qualified, he said of course he is qualified.
"I wouldn’t have applied for the position if I didn't think I was qualified," he said.
Councilman Jim Russell said the best way for all of us to find out if he's qualified is to see how he does on the job.
Russell said if it was him coming into a new position under these circumstances, he would want to prove his critics wrong.
"This is an opportunity to see his character," Russell said.
"The people are going to have to make their own decisions and how they feel about the new chief by what he does," Russell added. "I think I don’t want to influence that one way or the other. I want them to see if he’s a good chief, and we’ll know it. If he’s a bad chief, we’ll know that, too."