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Erie County Sheriff's Office (New York)

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Abbreviation  ECSO
Population  950,265
Formed  February 4, 1821
Erie County Sheriff's Office (New York)
Legal personality  Governmental: Government agency
Operations jurisdiction*  County (US) of Erie in the state of New York, USA
Size  1,227 square miles (3,180 km)

The Erie County Sheriff's Office is Erie County's oldest law enforcement agency.


The Office of the Sheriff is the oldest office under the system of common law in the United States and is an integral part of government in the State of New York.

As the oldest constitutional law enforcement officer of the county, the Sheriff is charged with maintaining the peace in all municipalities, villages, and towns within his jurisdiction and the care and custody of persons pending court action. The Sheriff also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Courts.

The powers and the duties of the Sheriff are embodied in the constitution of each state and, as such, the Sheriff of Erie County heads the largest Sheriff's Office in New York State and the fourteenth largest in the nation.


On February 4, 1821, John G. Camp was appointed as the first Sheriff of the district, which at that time encompassed both Erie and Niagara County. After the district of Erie County was established, Camp remained in office as the Sheriff of Erie County until December 31, 1822.

United States President Grover Cleveland began his political career as Sheriff of Erie County in 1871. He went on to become Mayor of the City of Buffalo, Governor of the State of New York and President.

The Erie County Sheriff is, as most of more than 3,000 sheriffs in the United States, an elected official. He is elected to a term of office for four years, must devote full-time to his duties, and may not hold any other public office.

The men and women, within the various divisions of the sheriff's Office, provide a wide range of services to the County's residents. In addition to 1,058 square miles (2,740 km2) of land area, Erie County has 90 miles (140 km) of shoreline, the waters of which also come under the jurisdiction of the Office.

The Erie County Sheriff's Office owes its successful development to the fifty-three sheriffs, and all the public servants, both past and present, who dedicated themselves to the service and the protection of the citizens of Erie County.

Sheriffs of Erie County:

  • Wray S. Littlefield 1823 - 1825
  • John G. Camp 1826 - 1828
  • Lemuel Wasson 1829 - 1831
  • Stephen Osborn 1832 - 1834
  • Lester Brace 1835 - 1837
  • Charles P. Persons 1838 - 1840
  • Lorenzo Brown 1841 - 1843
  • Ralph Plumb 1844 - 1846
  • General Timothy Hopkins 1847 - 1849
  • Leroy Farnham 1850 - 1852
  • Joseph Candee 1853 - 1855
  • Orrin Lockwood 1856 - 1858
  • Gustavus A. Scroggs 1859 - 1861
  • Robert H. Best 1862 - 1864
  • Oliver J Eggert 1865 - 1867
  • Charles Darcy 1868 - 1870
  • Grover Cleveland 1871 - 1873
  • John B. Weber 1874 - 1876
  • Joseph L. Haberstro 1877 - 1879
  • William W. Lawson 1880 - 1882
  • Harry H. Koch 1883 -1885
  • Frank T. Gilbert 1886 -1888
  • Oliver A. Jenkins 1889 - 1891
  • August Beck 1892 - 1894
  • George H. Lamy 1895 - 1897
  • Andrew Kilgallon 1898 - 1900
  • Samuel Caldwell 1901 - 1902
  • Francis T. Coppins 1902
  • Harry M. Kaiser 1903 - 1905
  • James Smith 1906 - 1908
  • Henry F. Jerge 1909 -1910
  • John W. Henry 1911 - 1912
  • Frederic Becker 1912 - 1914
  • Howard Stengel 1915 - 1917
  • Fred A. Bradley 1918 -1920
  • William Waldo 1921 - 1923
  • Frank A. Tyler 1924 - 1926
  • Charles F. Zimmerman 1927 - 1929
  • Charles F. Freiberg 1930 - 1932
  • Frank J. Offermann 1933 - 1935
  • Michael Maher 1935
  • William M. Eberhardt 1936 -1938
  • William Pollack 1939 - 1941
  • Arthur D. Britt 1942 - 1955
  • Michael Wagner 1955
  • Robert A. Glasser 1956 - 1959
  • B. John Tutuska 1959 - 1969
  • Thomas W. Ryan 1969
  • Michael A. Amico 1970 - 1976
  • Kenneth J. Braun 1977 - 1985
  • Thomas F. Higgins 1986 - 1997
  • Patrick M. Gallivan 1998 - 2005
  • Timothy B. Howard 2005–present
  • Administrative Services Division

    The Administrative Services Division provides support services for all Divisions of the Erie County Sheriff's Office. The duties of the administrative services division include Payroll, Personnel, Pre- Employment, Absentee Control, Reception, Budget, Purchasing, Accounts Receivable/Payable, Grant Management, Fleet Administration and FOIL (Freedom of Information Law). Administrative Services furnishes all benefits to the more than 1000 employees of the Sheriff's Office. The Erie County Sheriff's Office is an equal opportunity employer. It is the responsibility of the Administrative Services Division to ensure that all regulations are enforced. The Administrative Services Division is headed by Chief John Greenan.

    Police Services Division

    The Police Services Division encompasses several facets of the Office of Sheriff, including the most readily recognizable to the citizens of Erie County; that is, the uniformed law enforcement officers in their distinctive red and white patrol vehicles. Nearly 70,829 calls were placed in 2009 for assistance, including accidents, criminal mischief, burglaries, property damage, etc. The Police Services Division is charged with law enforcement duties, traffic enforcement, crime prevention and service to the citizens of Erie County. To facilitate these actions, the Police Services Division is headquartered in Chestnut Ridge Park at 1 Sheriff's Dr., Orchard Park, New York 14127. The Sheriff's Office maintains substations in the towns of Grand Island, Clarence, Elma, Colden, and Collins, along with the Villages of Springville and North Collins.

    This deployment of personnel ensures rapid response to the needs and concerns of the citizens of Erie County, which encompasses 1,227 square miles. In addition to the familiar red and white patrols of the county, many unique services are provided, some of which are outlined below.

    These units include the:

  • Road Patrol
  • Traffic Bureau - Accident Investigation Unit
  • Domestic Violence Unit
  • County Building "Rath" Patrol Unit aka Tactical Rath Unit. Well known in the Rath Patrol are Deputies Bauer and Day who are well respected and admired for all they do. Those Deputies have accounted for hundreds of arrests and it is known amongst the population not to act up in the Rath Building because of these two Deputies.
  • Transport Unit. The Transport Unit is infamous for the "Med Run".
  • The Police Services Division is headed by Chief Scott Joslyn.

    Civil Enforcement Division

    The Erie County Sheriff's Civil Division was the first Civil Division certified as "Professionally Accredited" in New York State. The Civil Enforcement Division is a state mandated service provided by all Sheriff's Offices throughout New York State.

    Its purpose and function is to serve and execute the various legal processes issued by and for the several non-criminal courts of New York State and for jurisdictions of other states and countries throughout the world.

    The Civil Division is the enforcement vehicle for all courts, including small claims, city, county, state and federal jurisdictions.

    The Civil Enforcement Division is headed by Chief John A. Anthony.

    Jail Management Division

    The Erie County Holding Center (ECHC), located in Buffalo, New York, is a pretrial, maximum security detention facility. It is the second largest detention facility in New York State, outside of New York City. The Erie County Holding Center has a capacity of housing 598 inmates remanded to the custody of the Sheriff of Erie County. It processes more than 20,000 inmates annually. The facility is a combination of pods and open bay construction and traditional linear type cells. Overflow inmates are housed at the Holding Center Annex at the Erie County Correctional Facility (ECCF).

    The Erie County Correctional Facility (ECCF) is located in Alden, New York. And presently can hold approximately 794 inmates of various classifications. The facility is a combination of "New Generation Jail" pods and open bay construction.

    The populations housed at the Erie County Holding Center and Erie County Correctional Facility include: non arraigned, non-sentenced, sentenced, and federal inmates. Males, females and adolescents (those adolescents adjudicated as adults) are housed at both adult facilities.

    The county system combines statistics (ECHC and ECCF) regarding average length of stay (LOS) at the jails: un-sentenced inmates have a LOS of 3 days, while sentenced inmates have a LOS of 40 days. The Sheriff's Office provides medical and dental services to both the ECHC and ECCF.

    The Erie County Department of Mental Health Services, through the Adult Forensic Mental Health Clinic is responsible for the behavioral mental health services for both adult facilities. Additionally, inmates can be admitted to the Erie County Medical Center's secure Psychiatric Service Unit, guarded by in hospital sheriff's deputies.

    Sheriff Tim Howard has come under intense scrutiny for numerous suicides, mistaken releases and overall incompetence and mismanagement of the Holding Center.

    The Jail Management Division is headed by Superintendent Thomas Diina.

    Professional Standards Division

    The Professional Standards Division is an avenue through which citizens can both protect their rights and voice complaints of possible misconduct of employees.

    Complaints received from citizens are treated in a positive manner. They are investigated, validated and disciplinary action, if any is determined.

    Reserve Division


  • Erie County Sheriff’s Aviation Reserve : Aviation reservists serve as pilots or observers and assists with ground operations when additional manpower is needed. Pilots are called upon to help perform search and rescue missions, air surveillance and air transportation.
  • Erie County Sheriff's Employee Chaplaincy Program : Chaplains come at any hour. Mostly, they listen. But they also comfort people who are in situations where they need guidance and compassion... or perhaps, if someoneasks, a moment of silent reflection will be offered in guarded privacy to support the trembling spirit that comes in difficult moments.
  • Erie County Sheriff’s Mounted Reserve : The Erie County Sheriff's Mounted Reserve began in 1942. It now consists of part-time reserve deputies who, at any given time, are ready to patrol on horses—county wide—regardless of weather or time of day. They patrol at Ralph Wilson Stadium for home Bills games, and special events, at Convention Center events, and at many festivals, including Allentown Arts Festival.
  • Erie County Sheriff’s Scientific Reserve : The Scientific reserve Division was organized in November 1971 as an all volunteer advisory group of highly skilled individuals to provide technical assistance to Sheriff's Office. Members spend many hours responding to specific requests to conduct scientific investigations, studies or analysis falling within the member's expertise. Scientific services include the medical, physical, art, business and social sciences.
  • Erie County Sheriff’s Special Services Reserve : The staff supplement and assist the Snowmobile Patrol Unit on weekends and holidays and help out with a variety of details.
  • Special Services Division

    The Special Services Division of the Erie County's Sheriff's Office consists of two branches, each providing specially trained and equipped personnel to respond throughout Erie County, to assist Deputies, other law enforcement officers, and agencies in several situations. This Division is also responsible for the comprehensive investigation of all criminal matters reported to the Sheriff's Police Services Division. Investigators work closely with town, state and federal law enforcement agencies and have special abilities and expertise, which are available to all municipalities within Erie County. The first branch is the Investigative Services Branch which includes the Computer Crimes Unit, Crime Scene Unit, Detective Bureau, Fire Investigation Unit and Narcotics Unit. The other is the Operational Services Branch which includes the Aviation Unit, Bomb Squad, Crisis Negotiation Unit, Marine Unit, Snowmobile/ATV Unit, SWAT Team, Underwater Recovery Team, and the Weapons and Ordnance Unit.

    The Special Services Division is headed by Chief Scott R. Patronik.


    In 1986, the Sheriff's Office was accredited by the New York State Sheriff's Association and, in 1990, became one of the first police agencies in Western New York to be certified by the State of New York as an Accredited Law Enforcement Agency. During current Sheriff Tim Howards term the Sheriffs Office became unaccredited, the only agency in New York that has done so.

    Fallen officers

    Since the establishment of the Erie County Sheriff Office, 4 officers have died in the line of duty.

    Stingray phone tracker

    Press reports have indicated that the sheirff's office operates at least one Stingray phone tracker. Most often it has used the device without court approval.


    Erie County Sheriff's Office (New York) Wikipedia

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