Tolbert Statement on Sheriff Howard’s Jail Management Accreditation Announcement

Accreditation of the Erie County Sheriff’s Jail Management Division from the New York State Sheriff’s Association, of which Tim Howard is a member and which is not a government oversight agency, is nice—but it is not enough.

Truthfully, it should have been pursued twelve years ago.

Further, it doesn’t address the concerns of the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the pattern of unexplained deaths at the holding center, the most recent of which occurred in July.

It doesn’t address the New York State Commission of Correction’s concerns issued this summer about the sheriff disguising suicides as “inmate disturbances” or delaying emergency medical crews from attending to medical emergencies in the correctional facility.

It doesn’t answer the question raised by the just recently disclosed testimony of sheriff’s deputies in the Richard Metcalf homicide trial, “why are Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies not appropriately trained?”

Today’s announcement by Sheriff Howard is another of his growing list of efforts to draw our attention away from his appalling record over three terms and twelve years:

  • Twenty-two deaths in the jails from homicide and medical neglect, as well as suicide.
  • Seven hundred opioid deaths in Erie County since 2015.
  • A gun homicide rate on pace to set a new record in 2017.
  • Poor or non-existent training of his deputies, the hard-working men and women who manage our jails, watch our roads and guard our communities.
  • A toxic political environment fueled by speeches at rallies for racists, bigots, and extremists.

These are the issues Tim Howard must confront but is trying desperately to avoid.

Residents of Erie County should ask themselves if they feel any safer as a result of Tim Howard’s announcement?

More to the point, would they feel better as a result of his announcement if, God forbid, one of their family members were picked up tonight by sheriff’s deputies and taken to the holding center?