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New police station progresses, handicap parking about three weeks away

By Joanne Beck
New police station rendering
Rendering of future city police station, which is in progress with site and utility work, in downtown Batavia. Submitted by City of Batavia.

Three weeks isn't exactly right around the corner, but it's at least on the horizon for a dozen business owners desperately waiting for handicap parking to be restored, and that's where the timeline stands as of Monday evening, according to City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

Work has been mapped out with traffic cones, tape and fencing several weeks ago, and officially kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony a week ago, and now is expected to further ramp up with the ongoing commotion of the $15.5 million building project.

"Construction continues to progress toward site and utility work being finished in the next three weeks to open up that first row of parkng which we did discuss will be reopened for those Washington  Street businesses," Tabelski said during council's conference session at City Hall. "Once the site work is complete, the contractors will move on to placing footers for the building and bringing in various construction trailers on site for the remainder of the project."

The city proposed this plan as business owners heavily complained about losing that adjacent row of parking next to their offices, citing the on-street parking on Washington Avenue as insufficient and dangerous for people with disabilities and assistive walking devices. 

In related action, City Council approved:

  • A contract with Barron & Associates to perform work for the new police station being constructed downtown in the parking lot of Alva Place and Bank Street. The company was selected out of four proposals to perform special inspections services for the construction at a cost of $40,000. 

    Barron, based in Clarence, is a geotechnical consulting company that performs subsurface investigation and analysis and design and consulting services, construction inspections and testing.

  • A $200,000 law enforcement technology grant obtained by Police Chief Shawn Heubusch to be used for small equipment and contract services for the police department.
  • An agreement with Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp./Batavia Downs for city police services on several dates at the Park Road facility throughout the summer.

    Dates include June 21 and 2; July 5, 12, 19 and 26; and August 2, 9 and 16. 

City shuts down further talk with downtown businesses, refers to current parking plan

By Joanne Beck
Phase I parking plan for downtown
Phase I parking plan at Alva Place and Bank Street in downtown Batavia.
Rendering submitted by City of Batavia

Downtown property owner Sharon Kubiniec made a return visit to City Council Monday evening to remind the elected leaders that, despite the good intentions and efforts made so far to rectify a parking issue around the new police station in progress, “we are not flourishing.”

Taken from the city’s mission statement to create and sustain a vibrant, affordable, safe community that includes a supportive environment where businesses continuously flourish, she emphasized that the last portion was certainly not true for those dozen small business owners since construction began a couple of months ago. 

Kubiniec also read through the city’s vision statement, countering with how life has been since work began in the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street in downtown Batavia several weeks ago. One portion that states, “our community members will be actively involved in the decision we made and active in bringing our plans to life,” was countered with, “We now know that in March of 2023, the negative state environmental quality review (SEQR) was approved by Batavia City Council. A negative SEQR means that the construction project has no negative effect on the environment,, traffic, and noise level of the area … that the parking lot surrounding the project area will remain open to the public.”

“Each affected business should have received direct notification of the proposed parking lot closure last summer when the plans were finalized. 

“You took 85% of our parking,” she said. “We bought these businesses because they had parking.”

“I just want to have a sit-down meeting where I can have a back and forth because I really do believe that you guys can give us answers that will put our fears to rest,” she said during the council’s meeting at City Hall.  “I’m not trying to be contentious with you. I'm just trying to gain information. And I don't know how this process works. I've never heard of a SEQR before … I’m just trying to gain information. I don't believe you understand the undue stress that this has placed on the businesses along Washington Avenue. We are all just trying to go to work, do our jobs and make a living every day as each patron, patient, employee and citizen of Batavia approaches us to complain about the egregious lack of parking in our offices.

“We still do not have handicapped parking. We appreciate the new plan to open up one row of parking. But I beg of you that you allow us to have a two-way conversation regarding the next two years, two years that will deeply affect our businesses,” she said. “I want to say my words very carefully because I have no ill will towards anybody. This has just affected my life immensely over the last couple of months. I'm not sleeping; I'm stressed to the max because my property value has changed when trying to sell a business, and that is all halted because our whole parking lot was closed off. That scares people; they don't want to buy businesses in downtown Batavia because they find out our city council can just close a parking lot without any warning.” 

She also said that one of their worst fears — patient safety being compromised by using Washington Avenue for handicapped parking — has already happened, with three people falling between their vehicles and the medical office to which they were headed.

“We have cameras on our sidewalks, and our sidewalks right now are being utilized 10 times more than they ever were before. So I have much more traffic on my particular property,” she said. I’m just begging you to have a meeting with the business owners to just sit down because, as I just did with (Police Chief Shawn Heubusch), he was able to put one of our fears to rest by telling us that the employees of the police department will not be parking on the outside, but they will be in that secured facility. So please just sit down with us. That’s all we’re asking. I’m not looking to break anybody; I’m not looking to attack anybody. I just want to get information so that we can put our minds at rest and assure our patients that they’re going to be in a safe environment.” 

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., a decades-long police officer and retired lieutenant who, in a prior meeting, said he thought some of the protests was in a tone of being against the new police station, asked if the business group had an attorney. Kubiniec said yes.  

Jankowski quickly referred the matter to City Attorney George Van Nest, who advised council that since the group had retained counsel that no discussions should take place. 

“Under the circumstances, since counsel has been retained, I would suggest to the council it's not prudent to engage in back and forth dialogue if there's a potential litigation threat,” Van Nest said. “The second thing I would say, council, is there was an update issued April 30, relative to phase one, phase two parking. There's nothing more to add to that at this point in time relative to timing. When there are further updates, they’ll be provided by the project team.”

The business group had initially attempted to seek answers from the city and encountered what it called “a gag order,” so it retained an attorney to file a Freedom of Information request so that all involved could read the SEQR and background materials and get those answers, Kubiniec told The Batavian. 

“The city responded that, ‘due to the volume of records involved, the city of Batavia will have records available by Sept. 6, 2024.’ This was a disappointing response given that these records are mostly electronic and typically available within 20 days,” she said. 

Kubiniec commended Heubusch for being willing to take time and answer some of her questions before the meeting began. 

The Batavian reached out to the two at-large council members, Bob Bialkowski and Rich Richmond, and Jankowski for further comment about why the elected city leaders won’t talk to the business owners and if they feel they are representing the city’s vision statement for businesses.

Jankowski passed those questions on to City Manager Rachael Tabelski, who responded later Tuesday afternoon. 

“We have engaged in various and multiple discussions with the business owners; the fact is that the business owners have retained counsel, and it would not be prudent for the City to engage in any further dialog at this time,” she said. “We have been open and transparent regarding the plans for the police station and the accommodations the City is making to assist the impacted businesses, which we will continue to do when practical.”

Bialkowski responded to The Batavian and said that “I sympathize with the business owners,” but that it seemed as though the city had done all it could do at this point. He believes that a front row of parking to be used for those with disabilities will be available to those businesses. He didn’t understand, however, why the two sides couldn’t talk just because the business owners have an attorney, as many professionals do. 

Richmond did not respond to a request for comment.

The city released an updated parking plan on April 30 in an effort to compromise with its initial layout, which restricted parking for the cluster of businesses along Washington Avenue and State Street. At that time, Dr. Adam Gregor said that while he appreciated the effort, he didn’t believe it was really enough of an improvement. Kubiniec said it was “a step into the right direction” but did need more moving forward. 

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National drug take back day happening across Genesee County on April 27

By Press Release

Press Release:

On Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., law enforcement agencies across Genesee County and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will provide the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. 

There will be three locations across the county where citizens can dispose of their medications. Sharps will only be accepted at the Batavia location which moved from the Alva lot this year. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. 

The Batavia Police Department, in conjunction with United Memorial Medical Center, will be accepting prescription drugs and sharps at the Batavia Police Department, located at 10 W. Main Street, Batavia. 

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will accept prescription drugs ONLY at the Pembroke Town Hall, 1145 Main Rd. Corfu. 

The LeRoy Police Department will accept prescription drugs ONLY at their headquarters at 3 West Main Street, LeRoy. 

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. 

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  In addition to DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, there are many other ways to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs every day, including the 11,000 authorized collectors that are available all year long. 

The Batavia Police Department Headquarters has one for everyday collection of drugs located in the lobby at 10 West Main St., Batavia. Containers are also located at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on Park Rd, Batavia, and the LeRoy Police Department. 

Sharps are accepted at United Memorial Medical Center, 127 North Street, Batavia. 

The FDA also provides information on how to dispose of prescription drugs properly. More information is available here: www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/where-and-how-dispose-unused-medicines

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or the April 27 Take Back Day event, go to www.DEATakeBack.com.

New drug disposal bins open at Batavia Police headquarters

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Police Department is pleased to announce a new partnership with Inmar Intelligence, a private company dedicated to the safe disposal of unused or unwanted medications. 

We have installed new green bins inside the waiting area of the Police Station to accept unused or expired medications. These bins are designed to be safer for use by the public and safer for disposal by members of the police department. 

Acceptable items include:

  • Unused or expired prescription medication - including controlled substances
  • Unused or expired over-the-counter medication 

Not accepted items:

  • Any needle, syringe, or sharp
  • Illegal drugs 
  • Aerosol cans or containers

The new bins will be accessible only during regular business hours of the Department (9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Monday - Thursday and 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Friday). 

If you are in need of disposing of medications outside of those times please check with your pharmacy for a location nearest you. 

All sharps (needles, syringes, etc.) shall be disposed of at an appropriate location, currently, Rochester Regional Health at United Memorial Medical Center accepts these items for disposal. If you have any questions about the new disposal bins please contact our Detective Bureau by calling 585-345-6444. 

"We want to give our residents the opportunity to safely dispose of expired and unwanted medications in the safest possible manner", stated Chief Shawn Heubusch, "This program will help make our community a safer place."

Batavia Police launches new way to enforce, pay parking tickets

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Police Department announces the launch of a new parking enforcement software application to allow for easier processing and payments of parking tickets.  

The application and platform was designed and is being administered by T2 Systems which is a leading national provider of smart mobility technology and management solutions. 

“Obviously no one wants to get a parking ticket and what can be just as frustrating is the time it can take to pay for a parking ticket, so the rationale behind implementing a new system is to make processing a payment as quick and seamless as possible,” said Batavia Police Department Chief Shawn Heubusch. 

Parking tickets can now be paid online via credit card by simply entering a license plate number or parking violation ticket number. There is also a convenient pay by phone option printed on the ticket as well. Parking tickets may be paid in person at the City Clerk's Office during normal business hours, which are 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

Residents are reminded that parking is prohibited on all City streets between 2 and 6 a.m., unless permission has been granted by contacting the Batavia Police Department dispatch center at 585-345-6350.

Motorists also are reminded to adhere to all time limit parking signs and not to block drives or crosswalks when parking or standing on any city street. To utilize the new system, please visit City of Batavia NY Citizen Portal (tocite.net) or www.bataviapolice.org under the Forms menu.

GCC welcomes former Batavia Police Sgt. Daniel Coffey as director of campus safety

By Press Release

Press Release:

danielcoffey.jpg
Photo of Daniel Coffey 
courtesy of GCC. 

Genesee Community College proudly announces the swearing-in of Daniel Coffey as the new Director of Campus Safety. The official ceremony took place on Monday, Jan. 8, marking the commencement of Coffey's tenure in this crucial leadership role.

Dan brings a wealth of experience and a distinguished career in law enforcement and emergency services to Genesee Community College. Serving with the Batavia Police Department since 2003, Coffey has consistently demonstrated excellence and leadership in various capacities. Notably, he was promoted to Sergeant in 2012. His exceptional contributions have been recognized through prestigious awards, including the Kiwanis Criminal Justice Award in 2018 and the Meritorious Service Award in 2016, further highlighting his commitment to public safety and community service.

In addition to his commendable service with the Batavia Police Department, Coffey has been an active member of the Town of Batavia Fire Department, Inc. since 2001. His dedication to the community is evident through his five years of service as Fire Chief, where he also held roles as Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief Captain and Lieutenant. In 2004, Coffey received the Chief's Award, a testament to his outstanding contributions to the fire department.

Genesee Community College is confident that Coffey's extensive background in law enforcement, emergency services, and leadership roles will greatly enhance the safety and security measures on our campus. We look forward to the positive impact he will undoubtedly bring to our college community.

Upon his swearing-in, Coffey shared his enthusiasm for the new role, stating, "I am honored and excited to join the Genesee Community College team as the Director of Campus Safety. My experience in law enforcement and emergency services has prepared me well for this position, and I am eager to contribute to the safety and well-being of the college community."

Please join us in welcoming Daniel Coffey to Genesee Community College. We are confident that his leadership will further strengthen our commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff.

For more information contact Vice President, Development and External Affairs Justin Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email: jmjohnston@genesee.edu.

GC law enforcement participates in STOP-DWI for the holiday season

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Batavia Police Department, and the Village of LeRoy Police Department will be participating in a coordinated effort with the Genesee County STOP-DWI program to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving. 

Law enforcement officers and STOP-DWI programs across New York State will be participating in a combined effort to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving, prevent injuries, and save lives. 

The campaign, which runs through January 1, aims to educate people about the dangers and consequences of driving drunk. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York State have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol and drug related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. If you are going to drink, drink responsibly. Don’t drink & drive. 

Designate a driver. Don’t let alcohol take the wheel.

Law and Order: criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance

By Joanne Beck

The Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, comprised of police officers from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and Batavia Police Department, charged a Le Roy man with two counts of the criminal sale of a controlled substance, third degree, and two counts of the criminal possession of a controlled substance, third degree, on Dec. 18 as the result of an investigation into the possession, transportation and sale of crack cocaine in and around Genesee County. 

Brant G. Matthews, 29, was taken into custody on a sealed indictment warrant out of Genesee County Court Dec. 18 after it was alleged that he sold a quantity of crack cocaine to an agent of the Genesee County Drug Task Force in the city of Batavia on two occasions.

Matthews was arraigned in Genesee County Court and released on his own recognizance in accordance with bail reform laws.

Task Force members were assisted by uniformed deputies of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Batavia Police Department and the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office.

Ebony Lauren Jenkins, 24, of Child Street, Rochester, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, seventh degree, and resisting arrest for an incident that occurred at 4:37 p.m. on Dec. 14 at North Lake Road in the Town of Bergen.

Jenkins was charged after she was allegedly found to be in possession of a controlled substance Dec. 12. She was contacted on Dec. 14 by Genesee County Sheriff’s Office for an unrelated matter and it is alleged that Jenkins attempted to resist arrest when responding deputies took her into custody for the aforementioned charge, deputies said. 

Jenkins was issued appearance tickets and released. She is due to appear at 3 p.m. in Bergen Town Court on Jan 17.

A 30-year-old Webster man was charged with introducing dangerous contraband into prison, first degree for an incident that allegedly occurred at 9:15 a.m. Dec. 18 at Genesee County Jail, 14 W. Main St., Batavia.

Kenneth Scott, of Daniel Drive, was arraigned on Dec. 19 in CAP Court.

Amanda Knauss of Batavia was charged with petit larceny after it was alleged that she stole property valued at $230.75 on Dec. 16 from Walmart on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia. Knauss, 30, was issued an appearance ticket for 3 p.m. Jan. 9 in Batavia Town Court.

Donald Stephen Lewandowski, of Back Street, Corfu, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, first degree, aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree, and driving while intoxicated, for an incident on Dec. 20, Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies said.

Deputies responded to Sharrick Road in the Town of Darien at 6:58 p.m. Dec. 20 for the report of a property damage accident. Lewandowski, 45, was identified as the operator as a result of an official police investigation. He allegedly crashed his vehicle while in an intoxicated condition and attempted to flee the scene, deputies said.

Lewandowski was transported to the Genesee County Jail for processing, and was also charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident and unlicensed operator, speed not reasonable and prudent, failure to keep right, moved from lane unsafely and no seat belt.

Lewandowski was held at Genesee County Jail awaiting arraignment at CAP Court scheduled for Dec. 21. 

A 36-year-old Le Roy man was charged with second-degree criminal contempt after allegedly failing to appear in Genesee County Grand Jury on two occasions after being served subpoenas, Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies said. 

Joseph Daniel Summers Jr., of Myrtle Street, was issued an appearance ticket for 1 p.m. Jan. 9 in Batavia City Court. 

Deajah D. Johnson, 22, Diamond L. Reed, 25, and Jahki T. Jackson, 24, were each charged with petit larceny and conspiracy, sixth degree, on Dec. 19, Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies said.

Sheriff’s Office personnel responded to a larceny in progress at Walmart in Batavia on Dec. 19, and as deputies arrived on scene, the three above-named individuals were allegedly pushing out a cart full of stolen items, deputies said. 

Reed and Johnson were taken into custody without incident. Jackson took off on foot and, after a brief foot pursuit, Jackson was also taken into custody. Johnson, Reed and Jackson allegedly stole merchandise from the store. Jackson was also charged with obstruction of governmental administration, second degree.

Johnson, Reed and Jackson were released on appearance tickets and are to appear at 10 a.m. Jan. 9 in Batavia Town Court.

Assisting in the investigation were Sergeant Michael Lute, Investigator Ryan DeLong, Investigator Erik Andre, Deputy Schildwaster, Deputy Jeremy McClellan, Deputy Travis DeMuth and Deputy Jenna Ferrando.

Donte J. Roberson, no known address, was charged with petit larceny for allegedly stealing traffic cones on Dec. 17. The 42-year-old was issued an appearance ticket for 6 p.m. Feb. 1 at Oakfield Town Court.

Emilia Carolyn M. Santiago, 28, was charged with petit larceny, conspiracy, sixth degree, and possession of burglary tools, after being stopped at 7:19 p.m. Dec. 14 while leaving Dick’s Sporting Goods at 4180 Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. 

Santiago had pending charges with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and was placed under arrest, deputies said. After a search of Santiago, it was allegedly found that she had stolen goods in her handbag that she was carrying while leaving the store.

Santiago, of Stevens Street, Buffalo, was taken to Genesee County Jail and was arraigned on Dec. 15 and released pending another court date.

Be forewarned: No parking restrictions on Washington Avenue

By Joanne Beck
No parking restrictions on Washington Ave., Batavia
Photo by Joanne Beck

There's been a change in restrictions to a section of Washington Avenue near Ross Street, that parents and guardians will want to take note of. That area has gone from no stopping to a more specific no parking zone for two different time periods on week days.

Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch made explained the change to City Council this week based on issues of lingering vehicles on the roadside.

"Before there was a no standing sign there, as well as on Ross Street right across from the middle school. We found that to be problematic from an enforcement perspective, because when people are dropping their kids off or picking their kids up from school, that's what happened, people stopped," Heubusch said during council's meeting Monday evening. "So it has been changed to a no parking rule from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on school days."

The zone is on the southeast side of Washington Avenue near Batavia Middle School, and is marked with no parking signs.

No parking restrictions sign on Washington Ave.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Public's help sought for Oct. 15 incident

By Joanne Beck
Person of interest in larceny
Submitted photo of person of interest for larceny at Tops in Batavia.

Batavia Police Department received a report of a larceny at approximately 1:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Tops Markets in Batavia, and has released a photo of a person of interest related to that investigation. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Tucker at (585) 345-6350, the Batavia Police Department's confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370, or by clicking the tip button.

Citywide response training gets schools 'on the same page'

By Howard B. Owens
police and schools
From L to R: (Front) Melissa Lindner, Notre Dame High School; Karen Green, St. Joseph’s School; Jason Smith, Batavia City School District; Susan Wakefield, St. Paul’s School; Jacqueline Simpson, New York State School for the Blind; (Back) Matt Lutey, Batavia Police Department; Connor Borchert, Batavia Police Department/BCSD SRO; Eric Hill, Batavia Police Department; Lynn Eick, St. Paul’s School.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Mr. Simpson’s in the building.

If you don’t know what that means, you’re one of the many students, staff and faculty at the school districts that don’t use such lingo as a secret indicator of a particular message to be broadcast when necessary over the public address system.

Just imagine what it would be like as a visiting student or substitute teacher on a day when this cryptic notification is aired, and all of the other school members respond in a knowing awareness. What if this message held special significance in relation to a school threat or community emergency? On the other hand, there are two very common terms used by most every school that have caused much confusion as well: lock out and lock down.

Now that a Standard Response Protocol has been implemented this summer, the language and related directives during school incidents will be the same for each of the city school district schools, St. Paul Lutheran, St. Joseph’s, Notre Dame High School and the state School for the Blind, and for Batavia Police Detective Eric Hill, it's about time.

“They've had the lockdown procedure in place and lockout procedure in place for a very, very long time. It's just now we're calling the lockout secure, so there's not that confusion any more. I'm really trying to push the education portion of it. Because a lot of times, you know, because of the very similar wording between lockout and lockdown, the general public would get confused as well. So we'd call for a lockout. And people would be like, 'Oh, my gosh, my kid was in lockdown.' They weren't, but it was just that the language is so close to one another that you don't understand what the difference is between them,” Hill said. “So we're trying to get that information out to the general public, and schools have actually had Parent Night and stuff like that, where they've been pushing out this wording and what it actually means. So when a parent hears 'Oh, you know, my school or my kid was in a Secure,' they understand that there wasn't any threat to the child at all … so we're hoping that that'll alleviate some of the anxiety that comes along with this kind of stuff.”

There have been some districts that used phrases such as Mr. Simpson is in the building to indicate a certain message to the student body, and a more universal language would help to clarify those messages as well, he said.

As for the wording, the new language to be used in this protocol will be:

Hold — is followed by “in your room or area,” and is the protocol used when hallways need to kept clear of occupants.

Secure —  is followed by “get inside. Lock outside doors,” and is the protocol used to safeguard people within the building.

Lockdown — is followed by “locks, lights, out of sight,” and is used to secure individual rooms and keep occupants quiet and in place

Evacuate  — may be followed by a location, and is used to move people from one location to a different location in or out of the building.

Shelter — is to include the hazard causing the incident and safety strategy for the group and for self protection.

These words will be announced by public address system when necessary, although Hill would like to eventually move to having the software available for use on cell phones, laptops, computers and Smart Boards. That will take future grants or other types of funding, he said. 

An example of a Hold would be if a student is sick and other students need to be kept away and out of the hall, a Hold may be called out over the PA, he said. 

A secure might be if there’s a threat outside of the building — there was a recent real example when police had a car chase, and the driver bailed from his vehicle and police officers chased him on foot. Previously that would have been a lock out, but now is a secure, meaning keep everyone inside and safe, and go about your business with the doors locked to prevent anyone from getting inside.

A lockdown is when the threat is inside the school and students and staff need to keep themselves safe inside, perhaps locked inside a classroom. 

Evacuate is to move out of the building, and shelter is to find a safe place to be in a time of crisis, perhaps a blizzard or other natural disaster.

An initiative that began from tragedy — a school shooting that took the life of Emily Keyes — the I Love U Guys Foundation was founded by her parents, Ellen and John-Michael, in 2006 to “restore and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive actions in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organization, and government entities.” 

The couple drafted these directives as ways to provide more uniform responses for kids to follow when incidents occur in schools, up to the point when the incident ends, Hill said. So if it’s a threat inside of school, no one would leave a locked classroom until an authorized person with a key unlocks that door. Because “no one, under any circumstances should open that door for anybody,” Hill said.

“Because, you know, we'll be opening that door. But we specifically set it up that way. The SRP is they've literally thought of everything at the I Love U Guys Foundation. They've put a lot of time, a lot of effort into this,” he said. “And we've actually had several trainings with them over the summer, and with school staff, both private and public school staff, to really understand their SRP and where it would be beneficial to everybody in our community, law enforcement, staff, students in the public, just to get everybody on the same page. So we're all talking the same language.”

The program’s name stems from when Emily was held hostage during her school’s shooting, and she texted that message to each of her parents. One goal is to get schools across the country to sign up and train using this standardized response protocol. Hill wants to ensure that the city’s program is up and running strong before then moving onto spreading it throughout Genesee County.

“Once we kind of get that in place, then we do want to hopefully grow the school safety team by pulling the Sheriff's department in with us. And then rolling it out county wide,” he said. “So that way, all the schools in Genesee County are using the exact same language, they're using the exact same protocols. And we all know what each other is doing. But we just haven't gotten to that step yet. So we're working towards that.”

Crisis response training for each of the schools began in August and will continue throughout the year. This protocol is not to be a replacement for any school safety plan, but an enhancement for critical incidents, officials said. 

Clear communication is critical in a crisis situation, City Schools Superintendent Jason Smith said, and the “standardization of these terms will provide clear direction to our students, staff, families, and community in case of emergency.”

“Thank you to our partners at the Batavia Police Department for leading this effort and for their consistent prioritization of school and community safety,” Smith said. “I’m thrilled to see Batavia’s educational community come together to implement these essential protocols.”

Part of the program includes posters that can be downloaded and printed out for schools to place on walls for free use in times of crisis — especially when someone forgets what a directive means or the steps involved, Hill said. 

There are also other posters that may be placed in windows to alert visitors that “School is Secured” with monitored entry, or “Drill in Progress” with no one in or out, or other such messages, and trainings offered through the program’s website.

 For more about the program, go to I Love U Guys.

Retiring detective honored for 'outstanding police work'

By Joanne Beck
Thad Mart retirement
Retiring Batavia City Police Detective Thaddeus "Thad" Mart receives a proclamation from City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. after 17 years of service during Monday's conference session at City Hall.

Photo by Joanne Beck

With several of his uniformed colleagues seated nearby, Batavia Police Detective Thaddeus “Thad” Mart was honored for his 17 years as a police officer, sergeant and lastly as a detective with the city department during the City Council’s conference session Monday evening.

Council President Eugene Jankowski read a proclamation listing the retiring Mart’s experience, which included serving as an operations specialist E-5 in the U.S. Navy and a border patrol agent at the U.S.-Mexican border.

He then began his local career in Batavia in August 2006 as a Batavia Police officer, distinguishing himself as a field training officer, general topics instructor, serving as a department liaison to the Veterans Treatment Court and as a crisis negotiator, the proclamation states. 

He was promoted to sergeant before becoming a detective in 2013, during which time he assisted in many high-profile investigations and became certified as a polygraph examiner. Mart has been part of investigations with everything from bank robbery and stabbings to burglaries, sex abuse by a teacher and murder.

Mart has been recognized for his “outstanding police work by multiple agencies citing his professionalism, attention to detail and steadfast approach,” Jankowski said, reading from the proclamation.

“He served his country, his community and the department with honor and dedication, and his approach to investigations was methodical and unrelenting. He demonstrated professionalism and courage, and he has been an outstanding trainer to many officers,” Jankowski said. “He has never sought out the spotlight but has worked tirelessly to keep the community safe by thoroughly investigating every crime and call for service he was assigned.”

So it was in a “true spirit of appreciation for 17 years of dedicated service” to the city,  that City Council drafted and presented the proclamation, Jankowski said, as a way to sincerely thank Mart for his unwavering service to the community and to wish him well in retirement. 

In turn, Mart was “proud and thankful” for having had the career and honor to serve the people of Batavia, he said, and the opportunity to “work with all these officers over the years.”

Batavia PD flag ceremony to honor deceased former officers

By Press Release
batavia pd memorial
File photo of 2022 Batavia PD memorial service for deceased former police officers.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press Release:

The second annual Flag Commemoration Ceremony for deceased members from the Batavia Police Department will take place on Wednesday, May 31 at 1 p.m. 

This year's ceremony will be held at the gravesite of Officer (ret.) Andrew McCulley in the St. Joseph's Cemetery. 

Flags will once again be installed in metal flag holders at nearly 50 graves at various cemeteries across Genesee County and plaques were affixed to deceased officers interred in the Monsignor Schwartz Mausoleum. 

We welcome all family, friends and retirees to join us for this solemn remembrance. Anyone wishing to attend should assemble by the Kelly Mousoleum at 12:30 p.m. as the procession will begin to the gravesite at 12:50 p.m. 

The flags and metal flag holders were produced and donated by H.E. Turner & Co., Inc. Funeral Home in the City of Batavia. 

Batavia PD and Lions Club partner up to fix bikes for BCSD

By Press Release
police_lions-club-edit.jpeg

Press Release:

The Batavia Police Department would like to thank the Batavia Lions Club for its generous donation and work during the Day of Caring.  Batavia PD donated several slightly used bicycles to the Lions Club.  

During the Genesee County Day of Caring, the Lions Club partnered with Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle to service/fix up these bikes.  Once the tuneups were completed, the Lions Club donated eight bicycles back to Batavia PD to be distributed to local children in need. 

The Batavia PD School Resource Officers teamed up with guidance counselors from Batavia City Schools to select these children.  Batavia PD and the Lions Club have agreed to continue this partnership in the years to come to ensure we can help the community in which we serve. 

Batavia PD would like to thank the Lions Club, Adam Millers, and the Batavia City Schools for their assistance in this newly founded program.

Submitted photo

BCSD superintendent sends letter to families regarding false bomb threat

By Joanne Beck
Jason Smith
Jason Smith
District Photo

The Batavian reached out to Batavia City Schools Superintendent Jason Smith after a false threat by an eight-year-old was made regarding a bomb on a school bus Tuesday. 

Smith was not able to immediately respond to The Batavian's questions later Tuesday night, however, he did provide a copy of the letter sent out to district families.

This letter was sent after Batavia Police Department issued a press release regarding the incident

It is below in its entirety:

To Our BCSD Community,

This afternoon, the Genesee County 911 Center received a call reporting there was a "bomb on a school bus" and placed the location of that bus in the City of Batavia.

The Batavia Police Department and New York State Troopers immediately responded to locate the bus (operated by Student Transportation of America). The bus was found on State Street, and there were no longer any students on the bus after completing the afternoon route.

Out of an abundance of caution, the New York State Police and their K9 unit performed a sweep of the bus in question and found no evidence of a credible threat.

The Batavia Police patrol officers and detectives investigated the call and determined it came from the home of a John Kennedy Intermediate student. The student confessed the call was a prank, and the BPD determined there was no additional threat to the district. The case has been turned over to the Batavia Police Department’s Juvenile Detective. BCSD will follow our Code of Conduct with respect to this incident as well.

All bus pickups will occur as usual tomorrow (Wednesday) without any disruption.

We thank the Batavia Police Department and New York State Police for their swift response.

Jason Smith
Superintendent

Batavia police, county sheriff's office teaming up to conduct alcohol compliance checks

By Press Release

Press release:

Caring about the community’s wellness is the underlying theme of a joint effort of the City of Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office to conduct alcohol compliance checks at retail businesses this month.

“Our department continues to partner with prevention educators at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse to provide this service to ensure that vendors are attentive to properly identifying the age of those purchasing alcohol,” said Assistant Police Chief Chris Camp. “Abuse of alcohol by underage individuals is a cause of accidents and other poor choices for this age group.”

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brian Frieday echoed Camp’s sentiments, adding, that “compliance checks demonstrate to vendors and young people, alike, that this community cares about the wellness of its citizens.”

This round of compliance checks – which are funded through a grant from GCASA -- will take place in December, prior to Christmas, and will focus on off-premise establishments only (supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores).

“We are planning to check off-premise establishments at this time because our data shows that kids are not drinking in bars or restaurants,” said Shannon Ford, GCASA’s director of Communications & Development and director of Prevention. “We are hoping to not find anyone out of compliance, but will offer Responsible Server Training to anyone who is caught or for those who would like to be proactive.”

Fifth annual Community Night Out a success

By Steve Ognibene

Pastor Ryan Macdonald from City Church, St. Anthony's site, says it’s been a pleasure to be part of a community social gathering that brings everyone together to share in food, fun and activities. 

"The weather played in our favor tonight with lower humidity and being cloudy and cooler than the heat wave we have endured throughout this summer," Macdonald said during Tuesday's Community Night Out event. "This year I would say brought in 1,000 people over the course of the event.  We had over 50-plus vendors and more additional sponsors. We are so thankful to get behind the police department with the K-9 unit, and they are just a blessing to the community, and we are glad to be a part of it."

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Batavia Police to civilians: think and act quickly to survive

By Joanne Beck

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

That’s a popular quote with a ring of cliche, but a truth nonetheless that was center to Batavia Police Department’s active shooter training Thursday evening.

And for nearly three hours, Officer Arick Fleming and Detective Steve Cronmiller not only reviewed the history of events — devastating as they were — but discussed how lessons can be gleaned from each scenario. Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, or CRASE, training was conducted by the police department as a way to better equip ordinary citizens with the knowledge to survive a possible future attack.

While some scenarios illustrated the surprise element of an attack and how it can paralyze people with fear, many others contained gems of insight into how survival really comes down to each individual.

Three key words to keep in mind are denial, deliberation and decisive, as each one will become an action taken by people caught in a surprise assault or tragic event, Fleming said. He asked the group of about 25 attendees how long they might have before emergency responders arrive on scene. Answer: Three minutes. While that isn’t a whole lot of time, it’s three minutes that can mean life or death for the person that hesitates to act in the face of a horrific situation, he said.

Denial: Not acknowledging that something might be happening and ignoring possible warning signs. He gave the scenario of hearing a bang and dismissing it as a car backfiring. Or, as shown in some actual video footage, not reacting when seeing flames on the other side of a building or when an angry, armed man disrupts a government meeting. Most people remained where they were as if gripped with fright or ignorance that something tragic was about to happen.

Deliberation: Assessing a situation for what is actually happening and what are some possible actions to take.

Decisive: Choosing to act in some way, whether it is to flee the situation, find a hiding place or actively combat the danger (a gunman or fire, for example).

“The ones who can make better, quicker decisions are the ones to survive,” Fleming said.

All too often, people look for the lead when in a crowd, he said, instead of acting upon their own instincts. Another video, in which actors lay on the ground acting ill, demonstrated how group-minded individuals can be, as one by one, passersby ignored the person on the ground. In one experiment, 34 people walked by in the first 20 minutes without any acknowledgment of the situation.

The brain’s response to stress …
There is a response to stress, Fleming said, that involves the “lizard brain,” in which a person will either fight, flee or freeze. Their brains may lock up and focus only on one solution — one way out of a burning building, for example.

Yet another video of an actual fire at a nightclub showed a crowd of people seemingly oblivious to a fire that had erupted and was visible. They remained in that group-minded mentality that, since no one else was moving, convinced them it must be the right thing to do. And when it became a mad rush out of the building, people flocked to one main hallway. They became wedged against each other unable to get out. More than 30 people died in that hallway, while several others perished at other points within the building due to not acting immediately, Cronmiller said.

Another interesting but tragic lesson was that nobody even thought to use an alternative exit within the club, he said. Caught up in panic and a gradual thawing of shock, folks just made a mad dash by following everyone else.

“If just one person had thought of breaking the plate glass windows, they could’ve gotten out,” he said, adding that if a building has a kitchen, there is always an exit door there.

A taped interview with a surviving teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut proved that there are options to take in order to survive. She hid 15 children in a small bathroom and hushed them throughout the time period a gunman ransacked the school and took 26 lives. Even when police finally came to the door, she wouldn’t let them in. Fleming agreed with that choice.

“I wouldn’t open the door for police if I didn’t believe it; if I wasn’t 100 percent sure, I wouldn’t open the door,” he said.

Law enforcement would be able to obtain keys or otherwise find a way into that bathroom, he said. For those who do choose to hide in a room, use whatever is available to barricade the door, he said, from a doorstop to desks and chairs.

A physical response ...
When it comes to fighting off an attacker, the same advice applies: use whatever is handy. Attendees suggested a water bottle, fire extinguishers, chairs and the U.S. flag in council chambers. Being the victim of an attack should make you mad, he said.

“Use that anger. The more things we can throw at his face, that’s going to mess him up,” Fleming said. “You’re buying us time. What you do matters; we need to make it through those first three minutes.”

Philosopher George Santayana seemed to have it right: don’t forget history and don’t repeat the unfortunate mistakes of others. Fleming and Cronmiller wanted everyone to learn from the past and survive a catastrophic event.

The recent attack by a gunman in Erie County prompted Lynda Kelso to attend and obtain those lessons, she said.

“The attack in Buffalo really hit close to home. I saw an opportunity to educate myself a little more. I have one kid in every school, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. I can be available to help,” she said. “If I can learn even one thing to help … I’ll be better equipped should something happen here in Batavia. I would be the one to react; if I can help, I can help.”

Top photo: Batavia Police Officer Arick Fleming talks about active shooters during a civilian training Thursday at City Hall. Above, Officer Fleming and Detective Steve Cronmiller conduct the training as part of the department's Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events education. Photos by Howard Owens.

Batavia City Schools, police and City Church work to ease traffic at Jackson Primary

By Press Release

Press release:

BATAVIA, NY– In an effort to ensure the safety of students and staff during arrival and dismissal periods at Jackson Primary, the Batavia City School District, Batavia Police Department, and City Church have joined together to create a new recommended pickup route for the City Church Community Food Distribution program at St. Anthony’s. 

The City Church currently hosts a bi-monthly food distribution program for community residents at St. Anthony’s Church. Due to the program's popularity, some traffic concerns have emerged around Jackson Primary, resulting in serious safety issues along with traffic backups during school arrival and dismissal periods. 

In response, a new route has been established to access the Food Distribution Program pickup line. The new route will be in effect starting with the April 27 distribution date. Those community members who wish to participate in the program must access Liberty Street via South Swan Street, Osterhout Avenue, or Otis Street. All food distribution traffic will be redirected to avoid Liberty Street between South Jackson and Sumner Streets and South Jackson between South Swan and Liberty Streets (the areas directly in front of and adjacent to Jackson Primary). Please see the attached map for the updated route. 

The City Church Community Food Distribution program is scheduled every two weeks for the following dates: April 27, May 11, May 25, June 8, and June 22.

“The Batavia Police Department is asking for the cooperation of all motorists in the area of the Jackson Primary during arrival and dismissal times to adhere to all parking and traffic regulations. Specifically, we want to ensure that motorists do not create unsafe conditions near the school during the City Church's food distribution dates as they wait in line. Therefore, we are requiring anyone attending the food distribution program to avoid the area of South Jackson between South Swan and Liberty Streets. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation to ensure the children remain safe during arrival and dismissal times,” said Shawn Heubusch, Chief of Police. 

“I applaud the City Church for providing an important and valuable resource to our community. Our collective priority must also be the safety of our students, staff, and bus drivers at Jackson Primary. I’m happy the school district, City Church, and BPD were able to come together to reach a collaborative and mutually beneficial resolution. I also want to thank Batavia residents for their cooperation as we roll out the new route,” said Jason Smith, BCSD Superintendent of Schools. 

 

 

County DA Larry Friedman sprinkles in bits of humor as he accepts proclamation from the Batavia City Council

By Mike Pettinella

Larry Friedman rattled off a few one-liners Monday night as he accepted a proclamation from the City of Batavia in recognition of his 40-year career with the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office.

“I've been in the DAs office so long that when I started Eugene Jankowski was a young patrolman, and we both had a full head of hair,” said the retiring county DA, looking at the City Council president who had just presented him with the certificate. “And (former sheriff) Gary Maha was the chief deputy in the sheriff's office.”

Maha was among those in the audience honoring both Friedman and Rose Mary Christian, who has retired after 29-plus years as a City Council member.

Friedman served as the DA for six consecutive four-year terms – all unopposed. He prosecuted 140 felony trials, including high profile cases in the city.

The proclamation stated:

“Larry’s acumen as a trial attorney helped bring about justice for countless crime victims and help to fortify the integrity of the DA office. Larry served the citizens of the City of Batavia and the residents of Genesee County with expertise and a commitment to improve the safety, healing and access to justice for all.

“Therefore, in true spirit of appreciation to 40 years of dedicated service to the City of Batavia and Genesee County, the City Council of the City of Batavia does hereby make this proclamation to sincerely thank Larry Friedman for his dedicated service to our community and to wish him well in his retirement.”

In his brief acceptance speech, Friedman noted his “great working relationship” with City Council, city management and City Attorney George Van Nest, and also with the Batavia Police Department’s Detective Bureau.

“As was mentioned, I prosecuted many felony cases arising out of the city of Batavia. And every time I've had one that went to trial, I knew I could look to members of the Batavia Police Department Detective Bureau to give me the assistance I needed in doing the things that need to be done right up until the time of and even during the trial,” he said.

Friedman said he was “grateful to my staff members” and joked, “I'm kind of sorry that they have nothing better to do on a Monday night -- as a number of people from my staff are here.”

He also drew a laugh when he mentioned that Christian told him that her grandson had just graduated from law school and is taking the New York bar exam in February.

“So, I gave her my card and wrote Kevin Finnell’s (his successor as DA, who also was in attendance) name on it … and told her to send his resume to Kevin because we’re always looking for good people.”

In closing, he thanked those who “are here to support me as opposed to just having the cookies and coffee (that were put out for the reception for Christian). I really do appreciate this.”

Photo: Larry Friedman and Eugene Jankowski Jr. at Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

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