Bower in term as sheriff sees stronger relationships between Sheriff’s Office and community
ALBION – Randy Bower had a long list of goals four years ago when he started as Orleans County sheriff. Bower, who retired on Tuesday after about 35 years with the Sheriff’s Office, says the standards have been met.
He sees a Sheriff’s Office better connected to the community with improved services.
“It’s a huge team and that’s what helped us meet the objectives,” he said on Tuesday at his office at the Public Safety Building. “There are 100-plus employees. You can’t do it alone.”
Early in his term as sheriff, Bower and Jail Superintendent Scott Wilson worked to add programs in the jail for inmates struggling with addictions. That has expanded to mental health services for the inmates as well.
That effort was strengthened about six months ago with a federal “Access Matters” grant where a clinician and peer counselor from GCASA now are at the jail 20 hours a week to assist inmates. The jail also has worked to help inmates with drug addictions to be connected to a treatment program when they are released from jail. They also receive Vivitrol which gives some relief from the pull of opiates.
Bower said the efforts have helped people to successfully stay sober, and fight off their addictions which often lead to crime in the community, with burglaries and larcenies.
In his retirement, he said he will be an active volunteer with Orleans Recovery Hope, an organization that assists people battling addictions and offers support for their family members. That group sprung from a Sheriff CARES initiative with local clergy members.
Bower, who worked as a public safety dispatcher for 30 years before being elected sheriff, highlighted some of the accomplishments in the Sheriff’s Office during his term.
• In addition to the expanded mental health and addiction programs in the jail, a K-9 regularly sweeps the facility to check if there are unauthorized drugs in the jail.
• Inmate work crews also have been cleaning up local parks.
• Corrections officers also function as peace officers at the Orleans County 4-H Fair and Albion Strawberry Festival.
• An increased law enforcement presence in the rural areas of the county, including school resource officers in Lyndonville and Kendall, with each school district paying the county $100,000 annually to have a deputy assigned to the districts.
• Improved training for deputies with all of them trained in giving Narcan (which often is successful in reversing a drug overdose), first aid and stop the bleed. Two-thirds of the deputies also have taken a crisis intervention training for people in a mental health crisis.
• All patrol cars have rifles and casualty rescue kits.
• Two traffic speed trailers are used in the county, and they were paid for with state grant through Sen. Robert Ortt.
• Sheriff’s Office has received increased federal homeland security funding, and an ICE security agent works out of the Sheriff’s Office three days a week and assists the office with some training.
• Sheriff’s Office offers Yellow Dot program for senior citizens, Safe Child ID program, deputies have lunch with students at elementary schools, districted driving program, Walmart safety day, prayer shawl ministry with prayer shawls in all patrol cars.
Strengthened Community Partnerships
• Established on-call clergy, led by Sheriff’s Office chaplain Don Snyder. Local participating clergy include Tim Lindsay, Eddie English, Dan Thurber, Randy LeBaron and Bilal Huzair.
• Sheriff’s Office participates in annual Blue Mass at Holy Family Parish (in memory of the late Deputy David Whittier).
• Partnered with the Lord’s House in Waterport in Toys for Tots program.
• Completed civilian response to active shooter training and security assessments.
• Driving simulator purchased with grant funds and available at local schools.
• DWI displays and banners available at local schools.
• Enforcement crackdown grant of $10,000 annually which is shared with local police.
• Secured $25,000 in grants to patrol the Erie Canal, with expanded presence at canal functions throughout the summer and fall. All marine deputies equipped with department-issued sidearm.
• Goal to have all police agencies participate in county dispatch system. Added state police. Only missing DEC officers.
• The county has expanded animal control services and now has two full-time animal control officers and a part-timer.
• Partnered with Albion Correctional Facility with inmates training some of the dogs from the county animal shelter.
• The Civil Division promptly processes orders of conviction and has received training in civil process from Ron Bill of the NYS Sheriff’s Association.
• Bower in June 2017 received a national award for his work to implement several new initiatives in the county, including expanded substance abuse and mental health services for inmates in the Orleans County Jail. He was honored at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in New Orleans with a MAGNUS Leadership Award.
Bower said Bourke as undersheriff and Mike Mele as chief deputy were supportive of the programs. Bourke is now the sheriff and Mele the undersheriff.
Bower said he looks forward to seeing how Bourke and Mele continue the focus of a Sheriff’s Office that is dedicated to serving the community.
“I can see Chris and Mike continuing these programs, and starting their own new ones,” Bower said.