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Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Le Roy grad newest deputy with Sheriff's Office

post by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Sheriff's Office

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff Office recently hired Joseph D. Loftus to fill the position of Deputy Sheriff; a position that was left vacant by a Deputy Sheriff who was promoted to Sergeant earlier in the year.

Deputy Loftus is a 1997 graduate from Le Roy High School. Following high school, Deputy Loftus earned a bachelor of science degree in Criminal Justice, graduating cum laude, from Brockport State College.

Deputy Loftus was previously employed by Le Roy Police Department and McNeil/AECOM Security. Deputy Loftus recently graduated from the Rural Police Training Academy at Genesee Community College in March and and was Captain of his class.

Sheriff Maha stated, Deputy Loftus has been participating in our 14-week field-training program and is performing exceptionally well. He will be a great addition to our road patrol.

Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm

GC Sheriff's Office hires two new corrections officers

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office recently filled two vacant correction officer positions with the hiring of East Bethany resident Jeremy J. Cypress and Bergen resident Jason E. Johnston.

The two correction officers graduated in a class of 15 from the Niagara County Basic Corrections five-week Academy earlier this year. Officer Cypress was the Class President.

Training included instruction in the care and custody of inmates, inmate supervision, defensive tactics, firearms training and other topics pertaining to corrections.

Sheriff Gary T. Maha stated, "Correction officers Cypress and Johnston will be great assets to the jail."

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Emergency dispatchers have had a busy first quarter with calls and new systems

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

It's been a busy first quarter in the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center.

There've been 6,476 calls to 9-1-1 and another 24,242 nonemergency phone calls, all while the Sheriff's Office grapples with the installation of a new communications system and new phone system. Dispatchers also now handle calls for the State Police in the county.

These points were covered during a departmental review by Sheriff Gary Maha and staff members during today's Public Service Committee meeting.

There have certainly been bugs in the new radio communication system being installed by Harris RF out of Rochester. Dropped signals, calls not being received, distorted transmissions, but all of these issues are being worked out, the Sheriff and staff members said.

A consultant from Colorado was in town last week and said when the system is working, it will be state-of-the-art, one of the best in the nation with nearly complete coverage of the county. But in the meantime -- largely because the county is under a tight deadline to get it up and running -- watching the process is "like watching sausage get made," Maha said.

"Normally these bugs are worked out ahead of time," said Steve Sharpe, director of emergency communication.

"He made me feel better," Maha added. "He said we'll get through this and it will work the way it should."

Dropped transmissions are down from 8 percent a month ago to less than 1 percent today, Sharpe said.

The system won't be fully functional until three new towers in the county are completed. Meanwhile, there will be constant tweaking.

Each new upgrade means transmitters must be re-tuned because with simulcasts, transmissions must be handled within a millisecond. If the timing is just that much off, it causes interference.

A firmware update by Harris meant all 1,700 of the county's radios (covering police and fire and highway departments) had to be re-programed. It takes from eight to 10 minutes to program each radio.

The Sheriff's Office has also had a busy quarter with prisoner transports. Because our county jail can't house female prisoners and the neighboring counties have run out of available female cells, deputies must transport prisoners to and from Wayne and Allegheny counties.

So far this year, there have been 465 transports consuming 750 man hours.

A transport now typically ties up a deputy for his entire eight-hour shift.

With the jail nearly fully staffed and an average of five fewer male inmates per day, the jail has spent $26,000 less on overtime so far this year compared to last year.

At Genesee Justice, grant funding is down, but the case load remains steady. There are 188 conditional discharge DWI cases, 119 victims receiving assistance, 183 violators on community service and 103 DWI convicts on interlock systems.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Destro shows his skills at youth conference; new K-9 fundraising effort launched

post by Howard B. Owens in Chris Erion, Destro, K-9, K-9 fund, Sheriff's Office

Destro will do just about anything to get permission for a minute or two of play time while on the job -- sit and stay, chase a bad guy, search for a human scent, bark at a cornered criminal, find some dope.

If he were in the wild, it would be like any dog catching a rabbit and having a bit of fun with it before it became a snack. That's what dogs do, Deputy Chris Erion explained to a group of seventh- and eighth-grade students during a seminar on law enforcement at the 26th annual Genesee County Youth Conference at GCC.

Erion put Destro through his paces demonstrating common dog tricks such as sit, down and stay, and then had Destro chase after him a few feet and then bark at him as if he were a fleeing criminal suspect. Destro then found a marijuana sample hidden in the room.

After each task, Destro got to play with a tug with a small rubber ball attached, or he got to chew on his favorite toy -- an old piece of fire hose.

Erion recounted one of Destro's greatest law enforcement feats yet, finding a post-it note that had been used in an alleged armed robbery. The job well done really demonstrates Destro's ability to pick up human scents, Erion told the students.

After the demonstration, Erion shared information about a new Facebook page set up by the children of Deputy Brian Thompson to help raise funds to support the K-9 program.

"The care and maintenance for a police K-9 is above what it typically is for a household pet," Erion said. "Their teeth have to be regularly maintained. Often they break teeth -- he's broken a couple of teeth already that had to be fixed -- care, feeding, all those sorts of things go into the K-9 fund to support the dog."

There isn't a specific budget amount the K-9 fund is trying to raise. The goal is to maintain an ongoing source of revenue to help take care of Destro and Pharoah, who retires in October, when Thompson retires, though Erion believes it would be a good idea to maintain a fund balance of $5,000 to $10,000.

"Then, if something were to happen, we could handle that immediately," Erion said. "We could put a new dog and handler into the field immediately."

The Facebook page was set up by Thompson's daughters Olivia and Sophia. They also came up with the idea of an envelope fundraiser. People can send a message through Facebook requesting an available envelope -- once a numbered envelope is taken and returned, it's counted as "filled," so you'll need to pick a different number -- and they will receive the requested envelope to fill with a donation and return.

The goal is to raise $10,000. According to the page, $2,000 has already been raised.

"If you think about it, the only life (Thompson's) children have known is life with a police K-9," Erion said. "He's worked K-9 his entire career with the Sheriff's Office and before that. It's part of their life, just having a police K-9 in the house, and they came up with an idea for a fundraiser. I just think it speaks volumes about their character and Brian's character to have that thought to do that."

Since becoming a K-9 officer, Erion said he's really learned a lot about the generosity of the Genesee County community.

"This assignment has opened my eyes to a lot of good things in our community," Erion said. "There's a school right now (where) the whole school is working on a K-9 fundraiser and I've had other people approach me to find out how to go about raising funds."

Visit the Facebook page Genesee County NY K-9 Support and click "Like"

Above, Kyle Mott gets a chance to pet Destro.

Friday, December 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Sheriff's Office announced graduation of new deputy

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office recently hired Andrew Hale to fill the position of Deputy Sheriff; a position that was left vacant by a Deputy Sheriff who was promoted to Sergeant earlier in the year.

Deputy Hale is a 2002 graduate of Batavia High School. Following high school, Deputy Hale enlisted in the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2006 and then continued his education, earning a bachelor of arts degree in History with a minor in Sociology from St. John Fisher College. Deputy Hale was previously employed by Fed Ex Express as a driver. Deputy Hale graduated from the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy at Niagara University on December 20, 2013. The keynote speaker at the graduation was the newly appointed Buffalo Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Resident Agent In Charge Michelle Spahn.

Sheriff Maha stated, “Deputy Hale has been participating in our 14-week field-training program and is performing exceptionally well. He will be a great addition to our road patrol.”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm

'Destro' takes on new job with a dogged enthusiasm

post by Howard B. Owens in Destro, K-9, Sheriff's Office

"Destro" likes people. He likes the snow. His favorite toy is a piece of old fire hose. But don't let the puppy disposition of the 2-year-old German shepherd fool you. He's a trained police dog, capable on command of doing all the things police dogs do.

If you meet Destro, you're likely to make a new friend, but let him approach you. Just to be safe.

"He's good," said his new handler and partner in crime-fighting Deputy Chris Erion. "He gets on my nerves once in awhile and I get on his, but we're a good match. He works very well."

Yesterday was the first day on the job for the new K-9 team after Erion and Destro completed 15 weeks of K-9 police dog academy.

"We start with a brand new dog who has almost zero training and we start right from the beginning," Erion said. "That way we know how he's trained, how he learns certain things. If problems come up, we know how to correct them, so it's a lot of long classes."

The 15-week course covered training in the areas of building and open area searches, obedience, tracking, drug detection, and handler protection.

The hardest part of the training, Erion said was "just sticking to it and getting up every morning."

"I got up at 4:30 every morning to get to Canada by 7:30 and I didn't get up home (until) 6:30, 7 o'clock at night and then my kids and wife needed attention, too, so balancing all of that was a challenge."

Destro gets along well with Erion's four children, the deputy said. "And he's kind of brought new life to my old German shepherd. They run around outside and play. They get along very well."

Erion and Destro start their new career together just as the K-9 handling career of Deputy Brian Thompson comes to a close. Thompson and "Pharoah" still are available to handle calls and help with the new team's training, but in about 10 months "Pharoah" will be retired from active duty.

Erion said he's grateful to the community support to help keep the Sheriff's Office K-9 program going.

"This program is completely funded by the community and we're certainly grateful for that," Erion said. "I'm personally grateful for that. There's an expense that goes into training and maintaining the dog, and that comes from donations. Without that we wouldn't be able to support the program."

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 9:05 pm

County on pace to have new communications system in place by Feb. 10 deadline

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

Work is proceeding pretty much on schedule for the county's new emergency communication system and phase I should be up and running by the Feb. 10 deadline, Steven Sharpe told members of the Public Service Committee today.

The necessary equipment has been installed on the towers at Cedar Street and in Pembroke, and the Pavilion tower should be completed shortly.

The microwave-transmission system should be operational soon.

New radios have been installed in more than 200 town and county highway vehicles. Installation started today with Batavia Fire Department's mobile units and volunteer fire departments will start getting their new radios soon.

Sheriff Gary Maha also shared with the committee that Uniden announced over the weekend a new emergency frequency scanner that will be compatible the Phase II P-25 TDMA system being installed by Harris RF.

The new scanners from Uniden should solve the problem being faced by local media, off-duty emergency responders and others who need access to police and fire communications to help them serve the public.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg asked Maha if the media will have the same access to communications as under the current system and Maha said he believed media outlets would.

The new Harris system makes it easier for law enforcement to encrypt communications, but Maha said encryption will be limited to law enforcement situations and not widely or regularly used.

One hold up with getting equipment installed on the Pavilion tower has been negotiations with American Tower Asset, the company that owns the tower. American Tower apparently wanted a lease fee to have the equipment installed on the tower, but Sharpe believed the company had previously agreed to provide such access for free.

Today, Sharpe said, he obtained the public documents showing that American Tower agreed in 1998 to allow Pavilion fire and Genesee County public safety agencies to use the tower facility at no cost as a term of getting approval to build the tower.

The county is also planning to build -- as part of phase II -- towers in Darien, Bergen and Alabama.

The Darien tower installation was somewhat delayed a few weeks ago when prehistoric human artifacts were found at the site. Researchers have determined, according to Sharpe, that the site was neither a burial ground nor an encampment, but rather a place were items were discarded along a travel path.


Friday, November 1, 2013 at 10:16 am

Sheriff's communications to dispatch all State Police calls in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, State Police

Press release:

Effective November 1, the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center, under the administration of the Genesee County Sheriff, will begin dispatching Troopers for the New York State Police Batavia Barracks. Currently, the State Police dispatches Troopers from the State Police Troop Headquarters on West Saile Drive but effective November 1, all police calls for service will be transferred to the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (9-1-1 Center) for dispatch. Currently, all cellular 9-1-1 calls within Genesee County are received by the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center. Staff at the State Police Barracks for non-emergency business may still be contacted by calling (585) 343-2200.

The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (9-1-1 Center) currently dispatches the Batavia Police, Le Roy Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s patrols and all fire and ambulance services within the County. The 9-1-1 Center maintains a staff of approximately 16 full-time and five part-time civilian dispatchers and each shift is staffed with three to four dispatchers. The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center is an accredited 9-1-1 Center by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Accreditation Program and meets all the New York State adopted standards for emergency dispatching.

“Our dispatchers have the highest level of training available and our Center is in compliance with the most stringent requirements for emergency dispatch set forth by New York State,” said Sheriff Gary T. Maha.

Sheriff Maha said, “The partnership with the State Police comes at a time when governments are being asked to cut expenses and share services. It just makes sense to combine dispatching into one central location where future equipment and resources can be dedicated to a single site.

A full upgrade in radios and towers for Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center to Dispatch State Police communication is currently under way to comply with federal mandates for narrow banding. The $10.8 million project, contracted to Harris, will narrow the current bandwidth for police communications to free up additional spectrum for first responders and private industry. The project also updates the current 9-1-1 Center to receive Next Generation 9-1-1 calls. The project has a target date of February 2014 for partial completion and June 2014 for full completion.

State Police Captain Craig Hanesworth said, “I believe that this consolidation of dispatch services provides the citizens of Genesee County with the best in police service and response times while also providing for an increase in the safety of our officers. In addition, this consolidation allows us to reassign Troopers to road patrol functions that would have otherwise been delegated to dispatch and clerical administrative functions. This move should help increase police coverage and response times in the County."

For any police, fire or EMS emergency, citizens should call 9-1-1. Non-emergency police-related calls should be made as follows:

Batavia City Police, 345-6350
Le Roy Village Police, 768-2527
Sheriff/State Police, 343-5000


Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 5:17 pm

It turns out, nobody currently makes scanners for the county's new emergency radio system

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

A $10.8 million upgrade to the county's emergency radio system is expected to greatly improve the reliability and efficiency of emergency communication, but the unintended consequence is that citizens, off-duty first responders and the media could all be in the dark for months or longer once the new system is fully operational.

It's a bit of a surprise to everybody involved, but the new technology being installed by Rochester-based Harris RF is incompatible with even the most advanced consumer scanners currently on the market.

And when new scanners are released -- perhaps as early as the first part of the year -- they are likely to cost as much as $500 to $600 each.

Sheriff Gary Maha is a big believer in the idea that citizens with scanners help solve crimes.  Clearly, when he spoke with The Batavian in the spring about the new radio system, he didn't anticipate the new technology would be incompatible with existing digital/trunking scanners.

"We're few and far between out there," Maha said. "We need all the eyes we can possibly have. If we have a bank robbery, we put that information out over the air so some citizen down the road may see the vehicle we want and can call 9-1-1. It's a benefit to us to have the people out there watching. They're our eyes and ears out there."

In recent weeks, we've had discussions with Maha about the situation and he said he's interested in finding a solution.

Getting scanners into the hands of media outlets is one thing. One solution that's been used in other parts of the country is for local law enforcement to lease emergency radios, with the outgoing transmission capability disabled, to news outlets. These radios cost in the neighborhood of $4,000 each, so it's still an expensive solution.

Another solution is putting streaming feeds of emergency transmissions from the P25 system on the county's Web site. But it's unclear at this point if the county has the available bandwidth or necessary technology to make this happen.

A Web-based solution would help both media outlets and make transmissions available to all county residents who care to tune in.

The Sheriff along with Undersheriff William Sheron met yesterday with executives at Harris.

Sheron said that Harris indicated it's a problem beyond the scope of their work, but said they are aware of other jurisdictions doing exactly what the Sheriff is considering.

"We're certainly aware of the issue and are interested in finding a solution," Sheron said.

Genesee County isn't the only jurisdiction facing this issue, as more and more agencies switch to the new technology and RadioReference.com's forums are filled with discussions about the situation.

What The Batavian has been able to piece together from the forum posts as well as interviewing Gerry Oliver, owner of G&G Communications in Le Roy, is that:

  • A company called GRE America made a radio that was designed to be compatible with Phase II technology, but the company went out of business. Its radio was imperfect technology and needed improvements and wouldn't necessarily work with Harris RF communication systems. BRS Phase II TDMA radios can be found on Ebay, but you take your chances buying one.
  • A company, The Whistler Group, Inc., has acquired GRE's intellectual property and is planning to enter into the scanner business. It didn't specifically announce a Phase II scanner, but presumably they'll bring one to market, perhaps before the end of March.
  • Representatives from Uniden have dropped hints in Radio Reference that the company -- which is the largest manufacturer of scanners -- is close to announcing a Phase II scanner. Estimates of when it will go to market range from fiscal Q1 2014 through the end of 2014.
  • Oliver believes that even after the switch-over, fire dispatch will remain on channel 4612, which means scanners currently programmed to pick up that channel will still be able to hear the fire dispatcher. There just won't be any chatter from emergency responders in the field answering the calls for people still listening on old scanners.

Radio Reference is an organization of ham radio operators and scanner enthusiasts. Through RF, volunteers from around the nation make their local emergency communications available on the radioreference.com Web site. Every smartphone app that allows people to listen to police and fire calls on their iPhones and Droids uses RR feeds, so if RR doesn't have working Phase II scanners, then those apps won't work for P25 jurisdictions.

Harris officials would not comment for this story.

The county has until March 1 to stop using one of its current 800 mhz channel so that the bandwidth becomes available for an inter-operable communication channel for federal Homeland Security.

Steven Sharpe, director of emergency communication, said installation begins next month, but current scanners will work on existing emergency channels until the P25 infrastructure is in place and operational.

Migration to the new system for emergency users should begin in December.

Beyond that the schedule of the transition depends on other factors -- from FCC licensing to tower crew availability -- though all equipment is scheduled to be installed by Feb. 1, giving the county one month to meet the 800 mhz channel deadline.

What happens at that point largely depends on what the county can make available to citizens and media for monitoring emergency transmissions, and what Whistler and Uniden make commercially available for purchase.

Oliver said there are a lot of people concerned about the issue, and people should be concerned.

"This is a public safety issue and it's a public information issue," Oliver said. "There's the average listener who pays taxes and thinks they have a right to listen in, but there's also the issue of firemen, off-duty police officers and EMTs -- how are they going to listen?

"I hope there's a solution for safety sake," he added. "Let's say I'm an (off duty) EMT and I live down the street from a call, a scanner might tell me, do I respond? What should I do if I hear nobody's responding? Those are the people who need scanners."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

2012 was another busy year for the Sheriff's Office

post by Howard B. Owens in annual report, Sheriff's Office

The Sheriff's Office once again experienced an increase in calls for service in 2012.

There were 27,787 calls in 2012 compared to 25,923 in 2011 and 21,334 in 2010.

The latest numbers are in the recently released Sheriff's Office annual report.

Here is some of the other data contained in the report.


  • The jail served 83,497 meals;
  • The inmate food expense was $138,361;
  • The inmate medical expense was $184,713;
  • A total of 1,146 inmates were booked;
  • The jail population over the course of the year went from 85 inmates to 69 inmates;
  • Corrections officers completed 808 hours of training;
  • The jail collected $61,000 in fees for such things as housing Wyoming County inmates, federal inmates, state prisoner transports and the inmate telephone system ($22,000).

Civil Service:

  • There were 511 summons/supoenas served;
  • For Family Court, 964 summons;
  • Evictions, 138.

Law enforcement:

  • Deputies received 5,362 hours of training on about 30 topics, including breath analyis, criminal street gang investigations, DNA evidence, domestic violence, sex offender cases, DWI enforcement, terrorist bombing, awareness, workplace violence, drug identification, active shooter training, police mental health, child abuse and human trafficking;
  • 438 active warrants were cleared;
  • The Stop DWI program received $154,799 in grants;
  • 200 child IDs were processed;
  • Department vehicles traveled 812,486 miles;
  • DWI arrests -- 150, with 29 being in the 21-24 age range, 113 males, 51 on Saturdays and 14 felony DWIs;
  • Refusal to take breath test -- 22;
  • Total breath tests administered was 138, with 15 reading .00, six .08, 11 at .14, 15 at .15, 13 at .16 and nine at .22.

Accident statistics:

  • There were 10 fatal accidents and 11 total fatalities;
  • There were 136 hit-and-run accidents;
  • There were 192 personal injury accidents;
  • Accidents involving an animal -- 596;
  • Alcohol related accidents -- 52.


  • 204, expired registration
  • 68, uninsured motor vehicle
  • 31, tinted windows
  • 35, driver's view obstructed
  • 124, unlicensed operator
  • 142, aggravated unlicensed operation
  • 29, leaving the scene of a property damage accident
  • 224, disobey traffic control device
  • 57, failure to keep right
  • 69, following too closely
  • 42, failure to yield right of way
  • 307, speeding over 55 mph
  • 404, speeding in zone
  • 3, driving too slowly
  • 56, driving while on mobile phone
  • 293, no seat belt

Criminal complaints:

  • 36, aggravated harassment
  • 2, arson
  • 11, bad check
  • 131, burglary
  • 36, criminal possession of a controlled substance
  • 61, criminal contempt
  • 118, criminal mischief
  • 29, disorderly conduct
  • 20, endangering the welfare of a child
  • 49, fraud
  • 1, gambling
  • 105, grand larceny
  • 138, harassment
  • 419, larceny
  • 283, liquor law violations
  • 1, motor vehicle theft
  • 9, rape
  • 16, sexual abuse
  • 65, trespass
  • 83, unlawful possession of marijuana
  • 1,904 total criminal complaints


  • The Local Drug Enforcement Task Force initiated 73 cases, made 71 drug arrests, with 16 cases pending and 14 search warrants executed;
  • The task force handled 57 vice cases with 44 arrests;
  • There were 17 polygraph tests given;
  • Investigators handled 118 misdemenaor cases;
  • There were 262 pistol permit records checks;
  • A 20-year-old cold case was solved when Deputy Chris Erion used a polygraph  and a child abuse suspect confessed;
  • The juvenile section handled 199 cases.

The 9-1-1 Call Center:

  • 49,846 calls for police, 2,342 for fire and 8,459 for EMS, for 56,440 total;
  • The Sheriff's Office received 23,231 calls for service; BPD, 14,749, Le Roy PD 3,562;
  • Dispatchers received 29,156 inbound seven-digit calls;
  • Dispatchers completed 580 training hours;

Court Security:

  • 600 knives were found during screening, 33 razors, 108 scissors, two drug paraphernalia and 17 "other" weapons;
  • 56,917 people were screened and 19,478 items scanned.

Animal Control:

  • 45 animal bite cases
  • 465 cats adopted
  • 21 cats euthanized
  • 538 cats impounded
  • 233 dogs adopted
  • 16 dogs euthanized
  • 429 dogs impounded
  • 16 livestock cases investigated
  • 239 lost animal cases investigated

Genesee Justice:

  • In its 14th year;
  • 305 victims of serious and violent crimes served;
  • 18 compensation claims filed;
  • 28 clients assisted in family court;
  • 218 in-person counseling;
  • 782 phone counseling;
  • The Child Advocacy Center served 112 children in Genesee County and conducted 54 sexual abuse examinations, 84 forensic interviews, made 38 therapy referrals.
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