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May 22, 2011 - 10:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Tim Wescott spent a few hours at Target on Saturday creating ID cards for children. The session includes getting their weight and height, getting fingerprints and snapping a picture. The parents receive (within seconds) a plastic, driver's license type of card with the identifying information of their children. The information is kept on file by the Sheriff's Office should it ever be needed to help identify the child in a crisis.

Wescott and other members of the Sheriff's Office have been out at many community events providing the ID service. Wescott said being in a retail store was the first time they had tried it in such location and he said the first couple of hours were pretty busy.

April 25, 2011 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, K-9, Sheriff's Office, Brian Thompson.

Deputy Brian Thompson's new partner has convinced him to keep working a couple of years longer.

Thompson was considering retirement in December, but then "Pharoah" came into his life.

The 8-year-old, 80 pound, Czech Shepherd was donated to the Sheriff's Office by the Niagara Falls PD and handler Michael Bird after K-9 "Finn" was retired due to a medical condition.

Thompson has nothing but praise for Pharoah, who he described as a great tracker, good with children and an excellent drug detection dog.

"When we get a chance to use him for tracking, we're going to find some bad guys andhopefully find some people who might be missing," Thompson said.

Already, Pharoah is making an impact in the fight against illegal drugs in Genesee County, according to Thompson.

"He's had some awesome drug finds so far that led us into some pretty good arrests, in the Class B felony range," Thompson said. "That inspires me."

It inspires him, Thompson said, to keep going for the sake of the community.

He thinks local law enforcement has been making good progress so far in fighting meth and crack in the community.

"Hopefully, some people will be put back on their heels to say, 'I don't want to deal drugs in Genesee County -- they're catching a lot of people there,'" Thompson said. "We can clean this town up. I love this place. It's the greatest place to live in the world."

Pharoah is trained to alert on methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, hashish and ecstasy.

He is also trained to track human scents, both in the open and in confined areas, and trained for handler protection and criminal apprehension.

The K-9 program's vet bills, medications and non-handler kenneling are paid for from a K-9 fund set up with community and business donations, including an original substantial donation by Ken Barrett Chevrolet several years ago. All equipment for the K-9 program also comes from the fund, and when Pharoah retires in a couple of years, a new K-9 will need to be purchased from the fund, which has been dwindling over the years, Thompson said.

He said he's confident, when the time comes, the community will come through to offer continued support of the Sheriff's K-9 program.

April 21, 2011 - 3:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

The past year was another busy one for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, with members of the department handling 21,334 calls for service.

While the number of calls for service was down, the overall number of calls to the dispatch center was up, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Increasingly, Maha said, people are using 9-1-1 or the 343-5000 number to seek all kinds of information and help.

When people don't know what to do, who to call, or after business hours for other government agencies, they call the dispatch center.

"That's fine," Maha said. "That's what we're here for -- to provide public service."

Dispatchers, Maha said, may not be able to help the caller directly, but may be able to point them to the right resource for help.

The Sheriff's Office released its 2010 annual report today, which breaks down most of the statistics related to call volume, number of criminal reports, accidents and arrests.

In recent times, in a bad economy, the Sheriff's Office has had more and more activity to deal with, Maha said, adding that less money leads to more police activity as well as tighter government budgets.

"We haven't asked for any more help," Maha said. "In our current budget situation, I certainly don't want to lay anybody off. That would put the public in jeopardy if I had to lay off any deputies and it would put my own people in jeopardy."

Maha said police services remain local government's number one priority.

"What kind of quality of life is it if you don't feel safe?" Maha asked. "If you're going to the store at night, or walking down the street, you don't want to worry about getting mugged. What kind of quality of life is that?"

Here's some highlights from the 2010 report:

More than 1,100 people were booked into Genesee County Jail. The highest single-day population was 99 and the lowest was 35. In all, 70,761 meals were served. Education services were provided to 116 inmates and 11 received GEDs.  Inmate medical expenses totaled $204,438.

There were 202 DWI arrests. Of those, 50 people age 21-24 were arrested for DWI, and 34 in the 25-29 age bracket. Males were arrested far more frequently than females, at 140 to 62. Saturday is the biggest DWI arrest day at 68 followed by Sunday at 43. Most arrests are between midnight and 3 a.m., with 83 total arrests during those hours. Two people arrested had a BAC of .31 or greater. A total of 43 people had BAC of .18 or greater. There were 27 felony DWI arrests.

There were 1,360 motor vehicle accidents handled by the Sheriff's Office. Of those, 202 were personal injury and five were fatal.

There were arrests made on 75 felony counts by the Sheriff's Office and 354 misdemeanor charges.

Crimes reported: 106 were burglary, 140 were criminal mischief, 155 were harassment, 367 were larceny, 133 were liquor law violations, and 117 were unlawful possession of marijuana.

In all, there were 1,680 criminal reports made in 2010.

There were 573 domestic incident reports.

Here's the number of calls for service by community:

Alabama: 770

Alexander: 844

Town of Batavia: 8,122

Bergen: 1,139

Bethany: 635

Byron: 695

Corfu: 252

Darien: 1,306

Elba: 728

Le Roy: 1,442

Oakfield: 1,059

Pavilion: 685

Pembroke: 1,628

April 20, 2011 - 2:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Dispatch Center.

A new system for communicating with emergency dispatch centers is in the works, and architects of the system are looking for feedback on what people with disabilities need, and how they use 9-1-1 systems.

Steve Sharpe, director of emergency communication for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, is asking the people with disabilities in Genesee County take a short survey provided by the Federal Communications Commission on 9-1-1 services.

"This is a survey for folks with disabilities to rate their local access to 9-1-1," Sharpe said. "This will help the State of New York better prepare for what is now called Next Generation 9-1-1 or NG911. NG911 is the next step in contacting 9-1-1 centers during emergencies including using technologies such as texting, video and other means. We need our local special needs population to fill out the survey so we can better meet their needs in Genesee County."

To take the survey, click here.

December 18, 2010 - 8:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in awards, Sheriff's Office.


Deputy Edward Vlack is Officer of the Year in the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Jane Ferrando received the Distinguished Service Award.

Both were honored Friday during the Sheriff's Office annual holiday lunch at the headquarters office on Park Road.

Awards were also presented Deputy Patrick Reeves, Deputy Brian Thompson and Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello for Meritorious Service.

Commendations were presented to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, Deputy Lonnie Nati, Correction Officer Lisa Aratari, Correction Officer Walter Kolmetz and Correction Officer Bob Mattice.

Top photo: Vlack receives his award from Undersheriff William Sharon, left, and Sheriff Gary Maha.

More pictures and full press release after the jump:

November 18, 2010 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.


Press release:

Genesee County Deputy Sheriff Jason E. Saile was recently honored by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-New York State and New York State STOP-DWI for his efforts in combating DWI.

Deputy Saile was one of 17 local law enforcement officers recognized statewide for outstanding achievements in deterring drunk/impaired driving. During 2009, Deputy Saile made 43 DWI arrests, of which nine were felonies; made 72 criminal arrests and issued 537 traffic tickets.

Deputy Saile was presented an Individual Officer Award during the MADD and STOP-DWI Law Enforcement Recognition Awards Event held in Albany, New York on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.

Deputy Saile was nominated for this award by Sheriff Gary T. Maha.

November 3, 2010 - 10:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, Sheriff's Office.


K-9 "Finn" has tracked his last criminal and is on the verge of becoming somebody's family pet.

The 6-year-old police dog suffered a parasite infection in his hip about a year ago and his muscles have yet to regain their full strength.

“He’s not going to ever fully recover to the point to be able to do the job of a K-9 police dog,” Sheriff Gary Maha told the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Maha is asking the County Legislature to pass a resolution allowing the Sheriff's Department to donate "Finn" to a person in the community, and then accept -- as a gift from the Niagara Falls PD -- a K-9 about the same age.

Deputy Brian Thompson said he will be sorry to see "Finn" go, but with another police dog about to join his household, there just won't be room for "Finn."

"It's heartbreaking to me," Thompson said.

The new dog, whom Thompson already knows, will be the last K-9 Thompson will work with professionally. After 19 years, going back to his time in the Army, Thompson is stepping aside as a K-9 handler. The Sheriff's Office is already starting the process of finding a new handler.

The new handler will get a "green" dog, at a cost of $6,200 to $6,500, plus the cost of at least 16 weeks of training.

The Niagara Falls dog is available because its current handler was involved in a shooting and has had trouble returning to work. The dog will be donated to Genesee County.

Thompson said the expectation is that the dog will have two or three years of working life left before retirement. Thompson will continue on as a K-9 handler so long as that dog is able to work.

Meanwhile, Thompson continues to work with K-9 "Jay," whom Thompson said is "the best narcotics dog I've ever worked with." 

"Jay" is 13 years old, however, and is no longer physically able to handle chasing suspects or tracking criminals.

"Finn" was only on the job for six months when he was out on a detail assisting Niagara Regional Police Services in Canada.

Thompson had to take him into a wooded area, and it turned out the area was full of ticks. The ticks were treated and the dog seemed fine at first, but parasites apparently weakened the muscles in his hip.

Over the next couple of months, he developed muscle tears while working and training. On one job, it became apparent that "Finn" was in a good deal of pain. He's been out of service for nearly a year.

A friend of County Attorney Charles Zambito raises purebred German shepherds and is interested in taking in Finn, but first the woman needs to ensure "Finn" and her other dogs will get along.

If that person accepts "Finn," Zambito will need to draft a contract relieving the county of any liability.

Both Maha and Thompson, however, said "Finn" would make an excellent family pet.

"He’s not a violent dog," Maha said. "He’s a very friendly dog."

"Finn" just isn't aggressive at all, said Thompson.

"Even in his job, he doesn’t like the aggression part of it," Thompson said. "It’s just not in him. We tried putting it in him with different training and different work, but it’s just not part of his personality. He’s not the least bit interested in harming anybody."


October 7, 2010 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

If you try to call the Sheriff's Office at 343-5000, you might not get through.

The problems with the phone lines this morning is not affecting 9-1-1 at all, according to Undersheriff Bill Sheron.

People who need to place non-emergency calls to the Sheriff's Office are asked to call 345-3000 and select and press 0.

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.

March 22, 2010 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Sheriff's Office, Dispatch Center.

Often times, according to Emergency Communications Director Steven Sharpe, when people call 9-1-1 looking for help in a hurry, they don't understand why the dispatcher starts asking a lot of questions.

A father has fallen from a ladder, a grandmother has had a stroke, or a child is seriously ill. The caller has one thought: Get an ambulance here fast!

And some dispatcher on the other end of the phone starts asking questions and seems to be taking up a lot of time talking. The caller is thinking: Why can't you just send help now instead of gabbing on the phone?

What the caller may not realize, is that the dispatch center is staffed by three or more people who can share information quickly and easily through their computers. While one dispatcher is gathering vital information that will assist emergency responders when they arrive on scene, another dispatcher is already putting out the call to the appropriate agency.

Sharpe sent a press release to local media explaining procedures in detail. The full release is available after the jump:

February 17, 2010 - 11:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Dispatch Center, Steven C. Sharpe.

The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center is on track to become one of the elite dispatch centers in the state, if not the country, with Director Steven C. Sharpe setting the bar high.

It's Sharpe's goal -- and has been since 2006 -- to have the dispatch center receive an Accredited Center of Excellence rating from the the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

No New York county has received an ACE rating since Monroe did it 18 years ago.

"It’s aggressive, but if you want to be the best and you want to say you’re the best, then you prove it by doing it," Sharpe said.

Sharpe, along with dispatchers John Spencer and Beth Hynes-Fisher will attend a training program in Orlando, Fla., in April that will provide the trio with more information on what it takes to win the accreditation as well as training in leadership, educating others and quality assurance. There will also be a series of classes on specific dispatch situations they can take.

The accreditation focuses on emergency medical dispatch, but Sharpe said the benefits go beyond sending ambulances out.

"The thing is, it doesn’t just effect our emergency medical dispatching," Sharpe said. "It makes us better dispatchers for police and fire as well.”

While achieving the accreditation is something Sharpe set his eye on as far back as 2006, he couldn't have dispatchers focus on the training during the years of moving into a new facility and consolidating with Batavia and Le Roy. Sharpe said his team started concentrating heavily on the accreditation in June and has already achieved a better than 90-percent compliance with protocols and calls. Accreditation requires at least 90-percent compliance on most calls and more than 95 percent on certain types of calls.

Part of the procedure required is that dispatchers go through a series of questions with callers in emergency medical situations. It's important for dispatchers to correctly assess the situation so they send the right personnel and ensure the emergency responders are properly prepared for what they might find.

"People often ask, 'why am I being asked all these questions?'" Sharpe said. "What we’re trying to do is find out what all the signs and symptoms are, and more importantly, give you instructions so you can help the person who is in need of assistance."

He said callers don't often understand that while one dispatcher is conducting the interview, another dispatcher is already starting an ambulance to the scene. Callers sometimes express concern that an ambulance isn't being sent right away, and that usually is not the case.

Sharpe joined the Sheriff's Office in December 2005 after eight years in the Air Force working in intelligence. He said his USAF background plays a critical role in how he approaches his job now.

"One of the core values of the Air Force is excellence in all we do and this is one of the things I carry over into here," Sharpe said "It’s what we expect of our dispatchers. It’s a very challenging job. It’s a very difficult job. It’s very stressful. But they hold themselves to such a high standard."

Dispatch Center photo is a file photo.

January 11, 2010 - 10:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Sheriff's Office, Wanted.


The Sheriff's Office is looking for Corey A. Johnson, who is wanted for an alleged violation of probation.

Johnson is 22 with a last known address in Silver Lake. Johnson was convicted of larceny and was on supervised probation.

Anybody who might have information on her whereabouts is asked to call (585) 343-3000.

UDPATE Jan. 13, 9:10 a.m.: The Sheriff's Office reports Corey Johnson is in custody.

December 19, 2009 - 12:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in gensee county, Sheriff's Office.


Deputy Ronald E. Meides, right, with Sheriff Gary Maha, was named the Genesee County Sheriff's Office 2009 Officer of the Year today during a luncheon at the department's Park Road facility.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher Gary D. Diegelman. Pictured left to right below: Steven Sharp announcing the award, Director of Emergency Communications while Undersheriff Bill Sheron, honoree Diegelman, Sheriff Maha and Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.


More pictures and the complete list of award winners after the jump:

December 17, 2009 - 9:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, scams, Sheriff's Office.

dontgetstung.jpgIf somebody calls you up and says you just won $1.2 million, it's not necessarily your lucky day.

A Corfu resident who recently received such a call on his mobile phone, did the smart thing and asked a few questions. The caller identified himself as Detective Brown and said that the lottery was "100 percent verified by the United States Government."

When the Corfu resident inquired about how Det. Brown obtained his mobile number, the caller mentioned something about paying bills online and buying goods "at a favorite grocery store."

The would-be victim figured out that the area code for Det. Brown was in Jamaica.

After getting off the phone, the complainant, who is on a "Do Not Call List," contacted Verizon Wireless and asked how this phony could have obtained his number. A Verizon operator said the company is aware of this particular scam, but did not explain, according to the Sheriff's Office, why the Corfu man's phone number was compromised.

Investigator Roger Stone warns residents to be especially aware during the Holiday Season of scammers and bunko artists. Many grifters will often try to obtain key personal and account information on the promise of sending large sums of money. Some flimflammers will ask "marks" for advance payment for insurance or shipping, etc., before claimed winnings or windfalls are transferred.

Would-be marks are encouraged to first, don't fall for the con, and second, report the incident to their local law-enforcement agency.

December 11, 2009 - 12:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Sheriff's Office, Dispatch Center.


In answer to a request from The Batavian, Steven C. Sharpe, director of emergency communications for the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, sent along this note about call volume at the dispatch center yesterday:

On December 10, 2009, the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center received 1,004 telephone calls, of which 354 were 911 calls.  Our busiest period was from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. when we received 400 calls of which 165 calls were made to 911.  During that same time period there were 442 radio transmissions to and from dispatch.  To put it in perspective, during that four hours we received or answered the radio every 33 seconds, a telephone call every 36 seconds, a 911 call every 87 seconds.  We dispatched a total of 268 incidents, however many of these responses involved multiple agencies such a police, fire, emergency medical services, highway departments, and utilities.  According to our records there were 107 calls for service created for cars off the road or disabled vehicles, but many of the jobs involved multiple vehicles.  There were 56 property damage and/or personal injury accidents that were dispatched.  

These job numbers do not reflect the number of calls we transferred to the New York State Thruway for disabled vehicles and accidents on the NYS Thruway.  What is also not captured is the number of calls we received from callers telling us they were leaving their vehicles in municipal or private parking lots nor the calls we received regarding road conditions and travel advisories.  One way to help out the dispatch center is to have your listeners/readers call 585-345-3000 extension 3300 to hear the Road Conditions Update.  They can also read the different definitions for Travel Advisory, Road Closings And Travel Bans at the county website located at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/dpt/sheriff/weatheradvisory.html

November 23, 2009 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, State Police.

Buckle up -- that's the message from local law enforcement.

The State Police announced increased seatbelt enforcement and the Genesee County Sheriff's Office will join the effort, according to Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

"There have been a number of deaths recently that would not have occurred had the victims been wearing their seat belt and shoulder harness," Dibble said in a press release.

The law requires all occupants in a moving vehicle to be wearing a restraint system that includes lap belts and shoulder harnesses.

From Dibble:

It is also important to understand that both the seat belt and shoulder harness make up the occupant restraint system that is designed to keep a crash victim from leaving their seat. The use of just the seat belt without the shoulder harness is illegal, and greatly decreases the effectiveness of the system. The law requires the proper use of both the seat belt and the shoulder harness. Those that buckle their seat belt, but slide the shoulder harness behind their shoulder, are in violation of the law and will be ticketed.  Unfortunately, too many people believe that wearing just the lap belt is legal. 

Anyone who has a medical excuse for not wearing the restraint system must have a doctor's note with them to show a police officer.

Seat belts and shoulder harnesses reduce injuries and save lives. Put them on and make sure everyone in your car does the same.

October 13, 2009 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, animal rescue, accident, Darien, pets, corfu, Sheriff's Office.

A dog was hit by a car yesterday at 1:30 p.m. and Deputy Brian Thompson, a K-9 officer, and Animal Control Officer Bill Taylor responded to the scene.

The accident occurred at Route 77 and Reynolds Road, where a stray boxer-mix darted into the road, according to Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble.

The dog was struck by a car driven by a person from Florida.

Thompson and Taylor first took the dog to an animal hospital, which recommended treatment at Corfu Vet Clinic, so Taylor and Thompson transported it there.

From what I heard on the scanner, the dog didn't sound seriously injured. Dibble said there's no information on how the pooch did after being transported.

I spoke with Shannon at the vet, who was off that day, and she said the dog was transferred to another facility, although she doesn't know where.

But it was good to hear on the scanner Monday about the extra effort Thompson and Taylor went to to care for the stricken animal.

September 29, 2009 - 4:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, pets, Sheriff's Office.

A Sheriff's Deputy was forced to destroy an aggressive Rottweiler this afternoon after the dog bit him on the hand.

Deputy Cory Mower responded  to a report of an aggressive dog running at large in the area of 8300 block of Bank Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

When Mower located the dog and approached him, the dog attacked him, biting his left hand, according to Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble.

Mower was heard on the scanner during the incident telling dispatch, "I tried to make friends with him."

After animal control arrived on scene, Mower transported himself to UMMC, where he was treated and released.

The 1:30 p.m. call was the second complaint the Sheriff's Office received today of a Rottweiler running loose in that neighborhood. In the morning, a deputy searched the area but did not find the dog. (The deputy did locate the dog, but was not able to capture it and it ran away. See comments below.)

The Rottweiler reportedly had current rabies tags, but the owner has not yet been identified and the incident remains under investigation.

June 27, 2009 - 9:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, GCASA, Sheriff's Office.

Found this video on GCASA's blog.

In another item, there's also this:

GCASA held the annual DWI Victim Impact Panel Recognition Dinner on Friday, June 19, 2009 at Bohn's restaurant in Batavia, NY. At that dinner, Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Howard J. Carlson was honored for his exeptional service having made 22 DWI arrests in 2008 with a 98% conviction rate.

New York State Trooper, Eric J. Daigler was also honored. He had 19 DWI arrests.

June 11, 2009 - 4:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in law enforcement, Sheriff's Office.

Local deputies will soon be equipped with Tasers courtesy a federal grant to help law enforcement agencies buy the non-lethal weapons.

The County Legislature approved an application for a $23,000 grant last night than will enable the Sheriff's Office to purchase 28 guns.

Under-Sheriff Bill Sheron spoke with WBTA about the taser purchase (audio).

The department currently owns no tasers.


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