Month: October 2017

Buffalo Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO Unions Endorse Bernie for Erie County Sheriff

Union Endorsement of Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sherrif

Union Endorsement of Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sherrif

Posted by Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Click below to read the full endorsement letter of Bernie Tolbert
from the Buffalo Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Lipsitz AFL CIO Letter

Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff Response Ad

Here is Bernie’s latest ad. One of three that will hit TV in the next 24 hours. Help us spread Bernie’s message and remember to vote Nov. 7th.

Bernie Tolbert For Erie County Sheriff – Response to False Att…

Here is Bernie's latest ad. One of three that will hit TV in the next 24 hours. Help us spread Bernie's message and remember to vote Nov. 7th

Posted by Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff on Monday, October 30, 2017

Stonewall Democrats Condemn Sheriff Howard/Erie County Sheriff’s Office on Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Stonewall Democrats of WNY, President Bryan Ball,  is- again- condemning the actions of Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard and his office.
“We commend Jacqueline Kretzmon, former employee of the Erie County Holding Center, for her bravery in coming forward and speaking out against sexual harassment and employment discrimination in Sheriff Howard’s administration,” said Ball. “The abuse suffered by Ms. Kretzmon is reprehensible and intolerable, and Stonewall Democrats of WNY stands with her–and all victims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. e will work for justice, and an Erie County Sheriff’s department where no employee faces anti-LGBTQ discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse.

Mayor Byron W. Brown Endorses Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff

Buffalo, NY  October 29, 2017 —Today, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown endorsed Democrat Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff.

“It is now more important than ever that we elect leaders who can build on our successes and continue to move our city and our county forward,” said Mayor Brown. “Erie County residents deserve a sheriff who creates a system for accountability, and ensures “justice for all. To that end, Bernie Tolbert has the professional experience to serve as the county’s top law enforcement officer.”

In acknowledging the Mayor’s support Bernie Tolbert spoke of future collaboration in ensuring the safety of Erie County. “It is a great honor to have the endorsement of Mayor Brown, a leader whose service to the City of Buffalo has strengthened our city and our region. His leadership has made Buffalo smarter, safer, and I pledge to work closely with Mayor Brown and all county and municipal partners to continue to expand on this progress.”

About Bernie Tolbert:  Bernie Tolbert is the former Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo office overseeing the Western New York region. He has more than 30 years of professional experience at the highest levels of law enforcement and corporate security. Born and raised in Buffalo, Mr. Tolbert holds a master degree in social work from the SUNY Buffalo and worked in education and social work in Erie County before launching a career with the FBI.

Mr. Tolbert’s campaign platform features four primary agenda items:

  • Clean up the County jails and restore pride and professionalism to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office
  • Beat the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic ravaging Erie County
  • Collaboratively work to turn back the tide of rising street crime
  • Restore a culture of respect and civility

 

 

Tolbert Statement on Howard Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Buffalo, NY October 26, 2017—It is surprising and deeply disturbing to learn that there is an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the sheriff’s office and Tim Howard by a female former deputy, especially as Sheriff Howard has made sexual harassment an issue in this campaign.

I will leave it to others to discuss the politics and the particulars of this matter. However, I do want to say something about leadership and office culture.

It is incumbent on all of us in all walks of life to treat each other with dignity and respect. That is what I have done throughout my professional career, and will continue to do when I am elected sheriff.

Yes, we will pursue, capture, and incarcerate criminals. Yes, we will make our roads, parks and public spaces safer. Yes, we will protect adults and children from domestic violence and abuse. We will do these things with energy and strength. At times we will do them with physical force and might, but we will never harass, insult, abuse, or mistreat people, whether they are inmates in our jails or colleagues in our work place.

I am committed to restoring professionalism to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and to providing leadership that will result in a law enforcement department of which everyone in our community will be proud.

I encourage Erie County voters to consider this case on November 7 and deny Tim Howard another term. Simply put, he must go. This case further proves the extent to which Tim Howard’s administration is built on abuse, mistreatment, and lies.

We know that inmates are routinely abused and mistreated in Tim Howard’s jails. Indeed, 22 people have died under his care. Now it is clear that his culture of brutality extends to the treatment of female employees as well.

We know Tim Howard lies about suicide attempts by inmates to avoid state oversight. In fact, he boasts about it. We know he lies about his opponents in campaign ads. His attack ads are false and desperate.

Now, with this lawsuit, we know just how deep his hypocrisy goes.

 

Buffalo News Another Voice: Sheriff’s Tenure Has Been Expensive by Jean Dickson

By Jean Dickson

While the most grievous effects of Sheriff Timothy B. Howard’s administration are the loss of lives in the Holding Center and the Correctional Facility, there have also been tremendous financial costs to the taxpayers of Erie County.


County Attorney Michael A. Siragusa’s reports show that no county official has used more public funds to protect his misdeeds than the sheriff has during the years 2008 to 2016 (Howard has been sheriff since 2005). Often this involved “outside counsel” – private lawyers – hired by the county.


Besides suicides and other deaths, many cases involve failure to protect inmates’ health and safety while they await arraignment. Some of these cases have been reported in The Buffalo News. In one case, Quandrell Ivey was denied adequate medical care while locked in the Holding Center in 2009. He sued in 2010, and in 2014 he got a settlement of $600,000; the county paid outside counsel $58,131. Total expense for the county: $658,131.


In another case, Mark Curcie suffered a punctured lung and loss of his spleen in 2006 when deputies used excessive force to subdue him. In 2009, his case was settled for $250,000.


Legal fees for defense of the Sheriff’s Office cost the county at least $595,000 in fees paid to outside counsel. This includes more than $89,000 spent so far on the Richard Metcalf case.


From 2008 to 2011, $291,410 was spent to defend the sheriff’s noncompliance with the U.S. Department of Justice and New York State Commission of Correction’s efforts to clean up the jails and save the lives and health of inmates.

An effort to hide these expenditures cost $19,117 for outside counsel plus the legal fees awarded to the New York Civil Liberties Union, another $9,123. Later, in 2014 and 2015, the county paid $22,493 to stop the NYCLU from viewing documents on the sheriff’s warrantless surveillance. All this cover-up money adds up to $342,143.

Most settlements are confidential; however, a few reported settlements paid to seven victims or their families amount to approximately $1.2 million.


In 2011, then County Executive Chris Collins released a list of 10 legal settlements for incidents that occurred from 2005 to 2008. The total was $461,000; the average payout was $46,100. At that rate, we should expect about 30 more settlements for deaths and injuries for the years up to 2017, resulting in at least $1.38 million.

The county might have to spend much more on the India Cummings and Metcalf cases.
So, adding up the expenditures for defense of Howard, the expense to the county amounts to at least $2.5 million. Future costs may skyrocket, adding at least $1.4 million, unless the training and culture of the Sheriff’s Department change radically.


Erie County cannot afford another Howard term.


Jean Dickson is a retired librarian with considerable research skills and a long-term interest in criminal justice

Tolbert Statement on the Richard Metcalf Homicide Case

The Buffalo News is reporting that lawyers in the Richard Metcalf homicide case have agreed to seal Sheriff Howard’s deposition and that of two of his aides. Separate testimony by sheriff’s deputies that they did not know how to apply the spit mask that choked Metcalf to death has already been made public.

I can’t comment on the legal issues involving the decision to seal Tim Howard’s deposition except to say that court orders to seal documents must be respected.

What I can also say is that it is deeply disappointing that once again Tim Howard is able to keep critical information from public view. This is part of a long, disturbing pattern in the sheriff’s office where all kinds of information – about jail management, training programs for deputies, surveillance programs, the budget and more – is hidden from public scrutiny. I will change that it.

It is also clear that, whatever the outcome of the Richard Metcalf lawsuit, it has been firmly established that jail personnel are not properly trained in even the basic requirements for handling inmates. I will change that too.

As sheriff I will immediately institute a comprehensive review of the training provided to deputies and adopt best practices used at well-run jails across the country.

The nightmare of Tim Howard’s twelve-year mismanagement of Erie County’s jails is about to end.

###

New York State Democratic Leaders Join to Endorse Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (District 141) shares her support of Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff

Buffalo, NY October 19, 2017— Members of Erie County’s Democratic Delegation to the New York State Senate and Assembly, including Senator Tim Kennedy, Assembly members Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Sean Ryan, and Monica Wallace, today endorsed Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff.

Standing with Tolbert at the endorsement announcement, Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes spoke further on Tolbert’s qualifications and the need for state investigations of the current sheriff’s administration.

“There is no doubt that based on his experience with the FBI and his background in international security management, Bernie Tolbert will remove the stain of Sheriff Howard’s failed leadership from our community, and restore pride and professionalism to the sheriff’s office,” said Peoples-Stokes.

NYS Senator 63rd, District, Tim Kennedy

Senator Kennedy spoke of Tolbert’s professional experience in offering his endorsement.
“Bernie Tolbert’s years of experience running the FBI Office in Buffalo and private sector security background make him unquestionably qualified to be our next Erie County Sheriff,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “Bernie’s platform to reform the Holding Center, fight the opioid epidemic, and make our streets safer is exactly what Western New Yorkers are seeking in the next sheriff.”

NYS Assemblyman 149th District, Sean Ryan

Assemblyman Sean Ryan stated, “I am proud to endorse Bernie Tolbert to be our next Erie County Sheriff. It will be refreshing to have a sheriff who will enforce all our laws, and restore professionalism to the sheriff’s office. Bernie knows that keeping our community safe means tackling the opioid epidemic head-on. Bernie is going to lead on this critical issue, and I am thankful he plans to make this a central focus as our next Erie County Sheriff.”

NYS Assemblywoman 143rd District, Monica Wallace

Assemblywoman Monica Wallace added, “Bernie Tolbert’s law enforcement experience as the head of the Buffalo FBI office will serve as a tremendous asset to the residents of Erie County as sheriff. His passion for justice and service to our community are traits all voters should look for in an elected official, and that is exactly what we will have with Bernie Tolbert. I enthusiastically support and endorse Bernie Tolbert in the race for Erie County sheriff.”

Acknowledging the NYS Democratic legislator’s endorsements, Tolbert spoke of the need for Erie County to identify the destructive mismanagement of Sheriff Howard’s administration and ways to prevent such damaging management in the future.

“I am honored to have the support of our Democratic state delegation of outstanding leaders and public representatives. When elected sheriff, I will look to partner with them in creating a safer county for all of our citizens, and engage them in reaching out to the State Attorney General and the State Commission on Correction to request state hearings into the condition of the jails and hold those hearing here in Erie County where our community can participate directly. After twelve years of Sheriff Howard’s deadly mismanagement and abuse, our community needs healing of the kind that can only happen through community participation in determining exactly what went wrong under Sheriff Howard’s administration—how and why it all happened— and, most importantly, how to make sure it never happens again.”

About Bernie Tolbert:  Bernie Tolbert is the former Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo office overseeing the Western New York region. He has more than 30 years of professional experience at the highest levels of law enforcement and corporate security. Born and raised in Buffalo, Mr. Tolbert holds a master degree in social work from the SUNY Buffalo and worked in education and social work in Erie County before launching a career with the FBI.
Mr. Tolbert’s campaign is focused on the following:

  • Twenty-two inmates who have died in Erie County jails during Sheriff Tim Howard’s tenure, the most recent occurring in July of this year.
  • Testimony from deputies in the Richard Metcalf homicide case that have made clear that sheriff’s office personnel are not properly trained in required restraining techniques and the need for Crisis Intervention Programs (CIP), the standard across the country for training law enforcement officers in how to deal with mentally disturbed persons, which apparently are not employed in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Admonishments issued by the State Office of Correction against Sheriff Howard for covering up suicide attempts to avoid reporting them to Albany and the sheriff’s publicly stated policy of not reporting all suicide attempts to the OOC.
  • Numerous lawsuits filed against the sheriff and analysis of the litigation fees and associated costs arising from those lawsuits showing a known total of $2.5 million in extra, unbudgeted costs to taxpayers and a conservative estimate of $4 million overall once additional and still undisclosed cases.

Mr. Tolbert’s campaign platform features four primary agenda items:

  • Clean up the county jails and restore pride and professionalism to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Beat the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic ravaging Erie County.
  • Collaboratively work to turn back the tide of rising street crime.
  • Restore a culture of respect and civility.

Tolbert Campaign Video Calls Out Sheriff Howard On Absence from Candidate and Debate Forums

Erie County, October 17, 2017—-The Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff Campaign today released a video questioning Sheriff Tim Howard’s refusal to participate in a series of candidate forums and debates. According to campaign spokesperson, Christina Abt, the end result of Howard’s refusal is a disservice to the voters of Erie County.

“To date Sheriff Howard has refused to participate in League of Women Voters candidate forums in East Aurora and Hamburg, with another candidate forum in Amherst unsure of his attendance,” Abt stated. “Additionally, the well-respected St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Debate, scheduled to feature Bernie Tolbert and Sheriff Howard, hangs in the balance.  Not only is the sheriff’s disregard for these long-standing election forums a slap in the face to the organizers, his decision to not openly and transparently debate the issues surrounding the 22 deaths in the holding center, 700 opioid deaths in Erie County over the last two years and $2.5 million in county lawsuit settlements with a projected $1.5 million yet to come, is a clear indication of his disrespect for the voters who have elected him and for whom he works.”

The Tolbert video is a tongue and cheek review of the sheriff’s absence from the various candidate forums and debates with suggestions of where he might be found, including a part-time security job the sheriff once held, where he wore his sheriff’s uniform in the middle of a county workday and riding a tractor out in the fields.

The video can be viewed on Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff’s Facebook page
Sheriff Coward Video