Former county legislator and Public Safety chairman says Drennan is ready to be sheriff

Posted 23 October 2015 at 12:00 am


Over the last several months I have absorbed the political propaganda being advanced regarding the race for Orleans County Sheriff.

Police protection is a fundamental responsibility of government. As citizens we have a right to expect that in our time of need law enforcement will be there to protect us. It is essential that we as voters get it right relative to who is best prepared to serve as the top law enforcement person in our county.

As a former Chairman of the Orleans County Legislature overseeing the Public Safety Committee, I know firsthand the importance of having a competent sheriff in office. Not only is the sheriff charged with ensuring the safety of our county by administrating and coordinating the efforts of our law enforcement officers, he manages the county jail and annually oversees a multi-million dollar budget.

Our sheriff needs to be an individual of strong moral character with solid and mature judgment who knows more about law enforcement than those in his employ. Come Jan. 1 there is no room for on-the-job training. When dealing with a crime, there are no second chances and people’s lives, reputations and livelihoods are at stake.

We are very fortunate to have three fine individuals pursuing the position of sheriff this year and each candidate has made a considerable effort in doing so. Despite this, we are witnessing the most contested race in years.

This race has divided our political parties, our criminal justice system and our community. The winner will not only be tasked with responsibilities of being sheriff, but also with unifying and gaining the trust of a fragmented community.

With my many years of experience in county government and in Orleans County politics, it is apparent to me that only one of the candidates has significantly distinguished himself from the others in his preparation for the job of sheriff.

It is indisputable that only one of the three candidates has received vast training and certifications in various aspects of law enforcement and has a substantial amount of actual work experience as a road patrol deputy, investigator and administrator of a law enforcement agency with budget planning and oversight.

In dealing with this candidate over the last 12 years I have witnessed his leadership abilities, his unquestionable character, his dedication both to law enforcement and to his family.

As a life-long resident he has made the protection of this county his career. He has a long established rapport and working relationship with law enforcement agencies throughout Western New York, as well as with local judges, prosecutors, probation personnel, lawyers and others associated with the criminal justice system in our county.

The other candidates have worked hard at their campaigns, but colorful shirts, road signs and stickers cannot mask the lack of experience. I trust that informed voters will make their way through the colorful clutter.

I trust once they get beyond the baseless rhetoric, they will see a lack of qualifications, a lack of experience and no proven track record. I trust voters will clearly see Tom Drennan for the position of sheriff in our county.

Tom Drennan knows what it takes to make our community safe. He understands and knows how to by patrolling our roads, coordinating investigations, collecting evidence, question suspects and witnesses, preparing and execute search warrants, make lawful arrests and comfort individuals and families who have been victimized.

Becoming sheriff is also about leadership and knowing how to develop and impart knowledge and experience to subordinates who will be delegated these responsibilities.

It is inconceivable to me that the Republican and Conservative candidate has no
experience in performing key components of the duties of sheriff and that candidate believes he is qualified for this position when Tom Drennan has performed these duties hundreds if not thousands of times.

It is not acceptable to tell the public that you don’t need that kind of experience to be sheriff and that you’ll have to rely on your undersheriff. If that’s the case, why do we need you? No disrespect intended but Mr. Bower’s proposed undersheriff has never been an investigator and as a lieutenant has limited administrative experience.

In a few weeks, we the voters are going to have the ultimate say. It is important we get this right. Make your own choice, but please take a little time and do some research. Attend the candidates’ public appearances, read the ads and materials and above all ask questions.

The safety of our community, your family and you depends on your diligence to insure you make an informed choice on election day.

Henry Smith, Jr.
Former Orleans County Legislator