New York State Sheriffs' Association
Serving Sheriffs and the Public for Over 80 Years
'Your Sheriff, the People's Choice for Public Safety'
Niagara County Sheriff's Office Deputy Joseph Tortorella was one of 13 law enforcement officers receiving the Presidential Medal of Valor at the White House last week. The medal is conferred upon officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in an attempt to protect human life.
Deputy Tortorella was honored for his actions on April 17, 2015, when he confronted and subdued a violent gunman who had shot and wounded his own parents inside their home in Wheatfield, NY, and by doing so prevented the gunman from threatening the safety of students in a nearby elementary school (where Deputy Tortorella's wife was a teacher, and where his son and daughter were students).
Deputy Tortorella took a round in the chest, which was deflected by his bulletproof vest, when he stood between the shooter, Duane A. Bores Jr., 25, and the nearby Errick Road Elementary School, while alerting the school to lock down. 15 rounds were exchanged in the gun battle between Tortorella and Bores, before Bores retreated into his home and killed himself.
According to Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour, who was also on hand for the ceremony, the President met with each of the recipients and their families prior to the ceremony.
Deputy Tortorella has also received several local and state awards, including being named New York State Deputy Sheriff of the Year at the NYSSA Winter Training Conference in January. Congratulations Deputy Tortorella; an honor well deserved! Please click here for a video of the Medal of Valor Ceremony.
Republican Fred Akshar won New York State’s 52nd district senate seat in a landslide victory in yesterday's special election. The Broome County Undersheriff, who was the likely successor to Sheriff Harder (if he were ever to retire!) decided to run for NYS Senate after Republican former Sen. Tom Libous, a longtime incumbent, was forced from office in July when he was convicted on a felony count of lying to the FBI. Fred Akshar received a challenge from Democratic candidate, former Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala. Governor Cuomo endorsed Fiala the day after the Libous guilty verdict. Senator Akshar took more than three-quarters of the vote, easily defeating Fiala. Since this was a special election, Fred must run again in next year’s regular election. Congratulations on a well-deserved win!
Seven Sheriffs appeared on the ballot unopposed and won re-election:
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple was re-elected to a 2nd term.
Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson was re-elected to a 5th term.
Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley was re-elected to a 3rd term.
St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells was re-elected for a 3rd term.
Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard was re-elected for a 4th term.
Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy was re-elected for a 2nd term.
Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike was re-elected for a 7th term.
In four counties, incumbent Sheriffs fought in contested races for re-election. In Herkimer, Lewis, Rockland and Warren counties, we are happy to report that all four incumbents prevailed:
Herkimer County Sheriff Chris Farber was re-elected to a 4th term, defeating Democrat Timothy Klock and Conservative Party candidate Daniel Reardon who served previously as Herkimer County Sheriff from 1985 to 1995. Sheriff Farber had earlier faced former Sheriff Reardon, and another, in a hotly contested Republican primary challenge in September, which Sheriff Farber easily won.
Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli was re-elected to a 2nd term, defeating long-time Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Galarneau, who ran as an independent under the “Leading the Way” party name.
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco III was re-elected to a 2nd term, defeating Woodbury Police Chief Richard Vasquez, who was also a 20-year veteran of the NY City Police Department. Vasquez was recently suspended from his position as police chief reportedly because he was spending too much time campaigning against Sheriff Lou.
Warren County Sheriff Bud York was re-elected to a 3rd term, easily defeating former Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland, who ran an aggressive campaign on line against Sheriff York on the Democratic and Working Families party lines. It was Cleveland who Sheriff York defeated in 2007 to become sheriff.
The Office of Sheriff was on the ballot in 16 counties yesterday. In 11 counties, the incumbents prevailed. In five counties, where the sitting Sheriff chose not to run, races for a new Sheriffs took place.
In Cortland County, where Sheriff Lee Price decided not to seek a 5th term, a hotly contested three-way race included Cortland Undersheriff Herb Barnhart on the Republican and Reform party lines, retired State Trooper Rich Berry on the Conservative line, and Village of Homer Police Chief and 25-year Cortland Sheriff's Office veteran Mark Helms on the Democratic and Integrity party lines. In a tight race, Mark Helms (pictured right) leads by 277 votes. With 673 absentee ballots uncounted, Herb Barnhart has not conceded.
In Fulton County, where Sheriff Thomas Lorey decided not to seek a 6th term, former Fulton County District Attorney and former Fulton County Judge Richard Giardino, who stepped down from the bench to run for Fulton County Sheriff, appeared on the ballot on the Republican and Conservative lines. He was opposed by Darren Smith, a state court officer and town councilman from Bleecker, NY who appeared on the ballot on the Sportsman line after a failed primary bid for the Republican line. Richard Giardino was the winner by a large margin.
In Orleans County, where Sheriff Scott Hess decided not to seek a 4th term, a spirited three-way race included retired Medina police officer Donald Organisciak Jr. on the Democratic line, Sheriff’s Office public safety dispatcher Randall Bower on the Republican and Conservative lines, and Orleans County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Thomas Drennan, on the Independence and Reform lines. The winner in this closely fought race is Randall Bower.
In Rensselaer County, Sheriff Jack Mahar chose not to run for a 4th term. In September Undersheriff Pat Russo handily beat back a strong primary challenge for the Republican line by former Sheriff’s Correction Officer Scott Ryan. Pat Russo prevailed and appeared on yesterday’s ballot unopposed, thus winning election to his first term as Rensselaer County Sheriff.
In Seneca County, Sheriff Jack Stenberg chose not to run for a 4th term. W. Timothy Luce, a retired Sergeant with the Waterloo Police Department, appeared on the ballot on the Republican line unopposed and won election to a first term as Seneca County Sheriff. Luce, who began his law enforcement career with the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office and has gone back to assist with projects there on a part-time basis since his retirement, has stated plans to appoint Chief Deputy John Cleere as his Undersheriff. John is he son of retired Seneca County Sheriff Tom Cleere.
Governor Cuomo has joined New York's Sheriffs in declaring the Week of September 14, 2015 to be Sheriff's Week in New York State. Sheriff’s Week celebrates the significant contributions made by the office of sheriff in county government and in the statewide criminal justice system.In addition to traditional public safety services, such as road patrol, criminal investigation and traffic control, our County Sheriff's offices patrol our lakes and waterways, provide security in our courts and in our airports, maintain our county jails and coordinate the dispatch of all emergency services in the county. The sheriff also takes an active role in community crime prevention efforts, victims' assistance programs, and drug awareness education in our schools.
Rensselaer County Sheriff Jack Mahar received recognition for the Accreditation of his Corrections Division recently. WRGB Channel 6 covered the event. Click here to view their story. NYS Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Peter Kehoe presented accreditation credentials to Sheriff Mahar in a ceremony at the Rensselaer County Public Safety Building, prasising Sheriff Mahar, Undersheriff Patrick Russo, Chief of Corrections Edward Bly, and the entire staff of the Corrections Division for the achievement. The following individuals who spearheaded the effort to earn the accreditation were recognized at the ceremony: Chief of Corrections Edward Bly, Accreditation Manager Greg Buell, Lieutenant Stacey Sauer, and Nurse Administrator Heather Holliday. PHOTO: Undersheriff Pat Russo, Chief of Corrections Edward Bly, Accreditation Manager Greg Buell, Lieutenant Stacey Sauer, Sheriff Jack Mahar, NYS Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Peter Kehoe.
Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy presenting about Social Media and Body Cameras at our Civil Supervisor Training Conference at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs, NY earlier this week.