As one of two Republican candidates for Orleans County Sheriff, much has been written in the weeks and months leading up to Tuesday’s Republican primary. I wanted to establish the record straight on a few matters, offer my platforms to the public again and take this opportunity to thank everyone for the overwhelming support they’ve shown me during this campaign.
I am the father of two adult sons who lives in a house in the Town of Carlton that I built with my own two hands. I am a 27-year member of the Orleans County community. I was born and raised in Lockport, the son of a Lockport Police Department Detective and a medical clerk at the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. I was a police officer in the Lockport Police Department for four years before transferring to the Rochester Police Department.
I have been a police officer for over 31 years, and police supervisor for 22. I currently hold the rank of sergeant and am the Supervising Sergeant of the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Taskforce (G.R.A.N.E.T.). For the last 14 years, I have been a team leader for the Rochester PD SWAT Team. I served our country in the New York Army National Guard in the field of Military Intelligence. I have served on the board of directors for a substance abuse counseling clinic, Huther Doyle, for the last 18 years. It is not much smaller in size and budget as the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. During my 7 year tenure as board chairman, I navigated the agency through some very challenging times and gained vast administrative experience. I was directly involved in securing both state and federal grants, meeting with county and state officials and the hiring of a new CEO.
My diverse leadership experience makes me fully capable to head Orleans County’s largest law enforcement agency. My decades of leadership experience includes involvement in over 1,000 critical incidents. Officers do not follow me because of the rank on my sleeve, but rather because I have the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to make the right decisions that not only protect and benefit them, but more importantly safeguard the general public. I understand the nuances of providing law enforcement to smaller rural and suburban areas that are impacted by the influx of crimes and drug trafficking that originate in larger urban centers because I currently do it. I have experienced it all. Making our county safer will be at the forefront of every decision I make as sheriff of Orleans County. I will always put people before politics.
While I have plans to improve all six divisions of the OCSO, these are my main priorities:
• Push back the Opioid Epidemic – This is the largest public health crisis we will ever see. As sheriff, I would work collaboratively with the Orleans County Major Felonies Crime Task Force, as I do now. Unlike the current administration, there will be no feuds. Over the years, I personally executed narcotics search warrants in Orleans County, and worked consistently with the task force. Through first-hand experience, I understand the devastation drugs bring to families and communities. I have long known that many of those who break into vehicles or burglarize homes are addicts looking to fuel their addictions. I also know we will never arrest our way out of an epidemic of this proportion and society is best served when people devastated by addiction are made whole again. A strong prevention piece will also be key to stopping addiction before it starts.
• Create safer roads and towns – In a 2017 statewide traffic report developed from NYS Department of Motor Vehicle statistics, it was determined that Orleans County had the most unsafe roads in the entire state when it comes to serious physical injury, fatal and alcohol-related crashes. I have maintained all along that I am not looking to ticket honest, hardworking folks. I will rid the roads of those that put our families’ safety at risk. The drivers with no or suspended licenses, with no insurance, driving at dangerously high speeds, intoxicated/impaired to the point where they are bound to crash. I don’t think anyone wants these people on our roads.
• Unify regional law enforcement – As the Orleans County Sheriff, I will take the lead role in reestablishing the relationships with our regional law enforcement agencies by forming a Law Enforcement Council. This will allow agency heads to meet on a regular basis and face our challenges on a unified front. We will regularly train with our partner agencies which will build a cohesive countywide law enforcement approach that best serves our community. This will also save taxpayer dollars.
• Increase moral for all employees – I will establish an awards program that recognizes those who go above and beyond in their service to our community. There will no longer be an A team and B team. There will be one team in which everyone gets treated fairly and has self-worth.
• Improve the Animal Control Service – No longer will you be told to either shelter or release a stray dog during off hours. These family pets will be transported to the shelter where they will be reunited with their owners.
Over the years I have brought awareness and raised in excess of $80,000 for the following charitable organizations: Special Olympics New York, Veterans Outreach Center, Huntington’s disease, US Navy Special Warfare Fund, Rochester Police Foundation and the family of a RPD officer who died unexpectedly. It is important for community leaders to set the example of philanthropy, which I will most certainly continue if elected Orleans County Sheriff. Community outreach and philanthropy is also an effective way for law enforcement to build relationships in neighborhoods and towns.
I have witnessed the ugly side of politics and often get asked how I keep my composure when people take cheat shots at me or tell half-truths. Years ago, I disrupted a street level drug network so bad that I became the proverbial thorn in their side. It was the busiest drug market in the city. During enforcement action, an elderly woman a few doors down would often peak through her curtains and give me a “thumbs up.” I often thought how I would feel if that was my grandmother. The drug leader became so angry with me that he put a bounty on my head and, on a relatively calm summer night, cowards attempted to collect on it by ambushing me. They fired three shots from across a street with one narrowly missing my head. Life is about perspective and keyboard bullies can never hurt me.
My largest frustration and disappointment has been my opponent’s unwillingness to publicly debate me. He has declined three separate debate invitations (Orleans County Chamber of Commerce, David Bellavia and me). Why would a candidate not want to publicly champion their values, service record and platform?
I believe the success of an organization hinges on effective leadership. I am a passionate law enforcement leader who loves Orleans County. I am confident that my leadership as Orleans County Sheriff will have a direct and positive impact on our community.
Brett A. Sobieraski