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.
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.”
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.”
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.