Tag: bernie tolbert

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?

Tolbert Statement on Sheriff Howard’s Refusal to Enforce Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order

Shame on Sheriff Howard for making a phony political issue out of the Governor’s executive order on immigration, sowing needless fear and anxiety in Erie County’s immigrant community, and acting once again as if as he has greater authority than the Governor, the Attorney General, the Legislature or the Courts.

Support it or oppose it, the Governor’s executive order instructing state agencies not to ask about an individual’s immigration status does not apply to municipal governments. It has no bearing on the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

It is outrageous for Tim Howard to pretend that this is a matter that affects his responsibilities. I hope and pray that he does not use this phony issue as an excuse to begin intimidating residents of Erie County as they go about their daily business or to otherwise pursue extremist views on immigration.

We must work together to keep our community safe and prosperous. That means respecting the separation of powers among the branches of government and not going it alone or shooting from the hip. It means not engaging in the rhetoric of fear.

I will have more to say about the sheriff’s office and immigration policy in the coming days.

A Conversation About Gun Violence Part II

In Part 2 of our series “A Conversation About Gun Violence,” Bernie Tolbert sits down with Murray Holman from the Stop the Violence Coalition and Paul McQuillen from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to talk about the difference between legal and illegal guns on the streets of  Erie County.

A Conversation on Gun Violence – Legal vs. Illegal Guns

In Part 2 of our series "A Conversation About Gun Violence," Bernie Tolbert sits down with Murray Holman from the Stop the Violence Coalition and Paul McQuillen from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to talk about the difference between legal and illegal guns on the streets of #ErieCounty#tolbertforsheriff bernietolbert.com

Posted by Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff on Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Conversation About Gun Violence Part I

In this first of a four-part series, Bernie Tolbert, Democratic Candidate for Erie County Sheriff, discusses the root causes of gun violence with Paul McQuillen, Upstate New York Coordinator for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and Murray Holman, President of Stop The Violence Coalition.
bernietolbert.com
#tolbertforsheriff

"A Conversation About Gun Violence" – Upholding the Law | Bern…

In this first of a four-part series, Bernie Tolbert, Democratic Candidate for Erie County Sheriff, discusses the root causes of gun violence with Paul McQuillen, Upstate New York Coordinator for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and Murray Holman, President of Stop The Violence Coalition.bernietolbert.com#tolbertforsheriff

Posted by Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff on Thursday, August 10, 2017

Left and Right Agree on Reforming Bail Practices

This opinion piece by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris calls for reforming bail practices that unfairly penalize the poor in favor of using factors other than money to determine how long someone must spend in jail after arrest and before trial.

It would be good to know how many of the 22 inmates who have died in Sheriff Howard’s jail were unable to make bail for lack of funds, thereby criminalizing poverty.

When elected sheriff I will support this bi-partisan approach to better law enforcement practices and look for ways to advance them further.

Transparency, Accountability and the Need for Change

The grim tally of deaths in Erie County jails has increased again with the confirmed suicide of a reportedly distraught inmate. We don’t yet know the circumstances, why, apart from being held on “drug charges,” the deceased was incarcerated, or whether he had prior arrests or known mental health issues.

This trend and the lack of a real plan to address it must change. It must change now. It is long past time for Tim Howard to go. That’s why I am running for Sheriff. I will bring the change we need.

What is especially troubling about this latest death is the sheriff’s refusal to release to the public detailed information about the circumstances of the tragedy. The lack of transparency and accountability is part of the dysfunction and mismanagement of the county jails under Tim Howard, which continues to have tragic and unjust consequences for our community.

There is no more damning indication of mismanagement and dysfunction than unnecessary and negligent death. The manager of any other operation with Tim Howard’s track record — a coach, a store manager, the operator of an amusement ride for children—-would have been dismissed for incompetence long ago.

Sheriff Howard talks of the new measures he’s adopted in the jails and speaks of plans to improve the handling of inmates with drug or mental health problems. But how many deaths must the people of Erie County tolerate before making the necessary changes?

It is time for more than new measures and plans that adjust things on the margin of the problem. Our community deserves wholesale change in the culture of managing the county jails. I offer that change through an entirely new approach based on my experience as a senior official in the FBI and a private security executive for the NBA and major corporations, as well as my training as a social worker.

1)     Provide better training for deputies and staff in dealing with drug users and those with mental health issues.

2)     Improve monitoring of inmates with mental health challenges, suspected or already identified.

3) Enhance the presence of mental health professionals in the jails capable of assisting deputies and staff in making proper assessments of individuals and providing the correct care.

4) Immediately institute a policy of public transparency and accountability. No more mysteries about what is happening in the jails. No more sweeping bad news under the rug or dismissing tragedies by saying, “these things happen.”

5)  Above all, change the culture in the jails. The sheriff needs to be present at the Holding Center and the Correctional Facility on a regular basis. He needs to lead. The sheriff needs to provide training and moral support to the staff and needs to report to the public how, as a team, the jails are being managed.

Without that level of involvement on the part of the sheriff, the county jail system will continue to fail our community and be a national disgrace to Erie County.

Tim Howard must do better, and so must we.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erie County Holding Center Deaths Continue to Rise

The grim tally of deaths in Erie County jails has increased again with the apparent suicide of a reportedly distraught inmate.  http://buffalonews.com/2017/07/19/prison-source-inmate-found-hanged-erie-correctional-facility/

Still frame from surveillance video inside Erie County Holding Center shows deputies and medics wheel inmate Richard Metcalf strapped to a gurney, face down with a pillow case covering his head on Nov. 28, 2012. Metcalf did not survive.

We don’t yet know the circumstances, why the deceased was incarcerated, or whether he had prior arrests or known mental health issues.

What we do know is that this brings to 22 the number of deaths in Erie County jails and prisons on
Tim Howard’s watch. The Holding Center and the
Correctional Facility have become houses of death.

This trend and the lack of a plan to address it must change. It must change now. It is long past time for Tim Howard to go. That’s why I am running for Sheriff. I have a plan and I will bring the change we need