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Proposal to Arrest Sheriff's Patrols Criticized

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard was joined by several town supervisors Wednesday in criticizing the county executive's proposal to eliminate Sheriff's road patrols.

It really was no surprise that Joel Giambra's four-year fiscal recovery plan included the road patrol provision.

He tried to eliminate funding for road patrols in this year's budget unless the towns that use the service are willing to pay for it.

Once again, Sheriff Howard and town supervisors are calling such a proposal unfair. He said charging municipalities for road patrols would set a bad precedent.

Howard said Giambra is basing his decision on insufficient data.

"I think to eliminate the Sheriff's road patrol, without a comprehensive study of all county expenditures in your county, the revenue that's generated from each of the individual communities, comparing the services that are given in the community to the revvenue generated...to make a decision like this without such data is not logically supported," said Howard.

Howard said he received his copy of the four-year plan late yesterday morning, well after it had been distributed to the media.

He said a proposal from an earlier draft of the plan that would have seen the State Police assume responsibility for road patrols was removed.

Elma Town Supervisor Mike Nolan said he has no sympathy for county officials as they try to close massive budget gaps in coming years...

"They put us as taxpayers in this position through pure mismanagement over the last several years," said Nolan. "Each and everyone of them is accountable, particularly the County Executive in citing this as an inequity, is just irressponsible leadership."

Nolan said county leaders are putting all residents at risk. He said health services and public safety are primary functions of county government.

By dropping sheriff's road patrols, Nolan said, the county is failing to meet its responsibilities.