Tolbert Statement on Election Results

I placed a call to Sheriff Howard earlier this morning to congratulate him on a hard-fought election and also to tell him that, given the extraordinary closeness of the race, I believe it is prudent and sensible to await the official vote certification by the Erie County Board of Elections, which includes the tally of all absentee ballots and affadivits, to determine the final outcome.

Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign, who marched with us, rang doorbells, made phone calls, watched the polls, and rallied voters. I am blessed to have your support.


The Challenger Endorses Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff



November 1, 2016—This is one of the most important races of the year,” declared Assembly Woman Crystal Peoples-Stokes during a recent press conference endorsing Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff. She could not have been more correct.

Over the years this newspaper has received countless letters from inmates about deplorable conditions and all too often physical abuse – at the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility at Alden.

The man that Bernie Tolbert is running to replace, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard, should have been gone a long time ago. Under his watch, the number of inmate deaths by suicide and abuse, lawsuits, criminal investigations and mismanagement, have been well documented.

Your vote is critical in that it can help bring about much needed change and restore civility and transparency to this law enforcement agency.

That’s why it’s so important that you go to the polls next Tuesday and elect Bernie Tolbert as the next Erie County Sheriff. Tolbert – despite withstanding the slings and arrows of outrageous political attack ads – has run a commendable, above board campaign.

His “issues that matter” include the County Holding Center, street violence, the heroin and opioid epidemic and guaranteeing justice for all. Bernie is no stranger to the inner city.

Buffalo born, he was raised in the Willert Park Housing Project by his amazing mother, where respect and education was stressed. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work.

Over the years his career choices have included serving as FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Office; and Vice President of Security, Coca Cola, HSBC Bank and the NBA – a total of 20 years of solid law enforcement experience.

Mr. Tolbert is no lightweight and he retuned home to this area several years ago to lend his skills and expertise to help build a city, county and community we can all be proud of.

Bernie Tolbert is the only, and best choice in the upcoming election. He has the integrity, intelligence, temperament and high level experience to make the Erie County Sheriff’s Department one of the best in the country.

Political hopefuls like Mr. Tolbert come along only once in a great while. That is why we are so proud to endorse his candidacy! And why, as a community, we can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity to elect him to this important position.

Please join us in voting for Bernie Tolbert, Democrat, for Erie County Sheriff on Tuesday, November7!

toblert rally.jpg

Get Out And Vote Rally November 4

For Erie County Sheriff Candidate BERNIE TOLBERT

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