The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a request from the Sheriff’s Office to allocate asset forfeiture funds to purchase equipment and attend training that will help deputies prepare and respond in the event of an active shooting. At the March 7, 2013 session, the Legislature approved the transfer of $340,800 to fund several equipment purchases and training sessions.
A portion of the funds will be used to purchase specialized police tools and supplies for the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). The Sheriff’s Office also identified a need to equip their patrol cars with bolt cutters and sledgehammers that could be critical for deputies facing bolted, chained or padlocked doors when responding to an emergency. Outfitted with such equipment would allow deputies to gain access without unnecessary delay.
“Properly utilizing the asset forfeiture fund allows the Sheriff’s Office to purchase equipment and attend training without an additional cost to the county and taxpayers. I was pleased to learn that this year the Sheriff’s Office was using the funds to better equip and train deputies to handle an active shooter or incident of terrorism. The Legislature strongly supports the Sheriff’s ongoing efforts to protect our community through use of Asset Forfeiture Trust Account funds,” said Legislator Rath.
Undersheriff Mark Wipperman explained to Legislators that the request to purchase certain equipment was in direct response to some of the issues law enforcement learned after the Sandy Hook and other “active shooter” tragedies our country has recently dealt with.
In addition, a portion of the funds will be used for training. By mid-April, almost every member of the Sheriff’s Office patrol services division will have completed the latest active shooting training, making the Sheriff’s Office one of the only agencies in Western New York to do so. The “active shooter” training places deputies in real time scenarios, teaching and preparing them to handle these situations if they occur in Erie County.
The Sheriff’s Office also identified purchases needed for the Investigative Services Bureau and their Crime Scene Investigators. Equipment will be purchased to ensure these divisions have all the necessary tools and resources to adequately investigate and process crime scenes throughout Erie County.
Asset forfeiture funds are financial assets recovered after the arrest and prosecution of criminals, such as drug money or the proceeds from auctioning off vehicles and other items confiscated during a criminal or narcotics investigation. With the approval of the legislature, these funds are reinvested to fight crime and equip law enforcement officers without burdening the taxpayer.
“Adequately training our Sheriff’s Deputies is a great benefit to the entire region as they are often called to back up other agencies and provide skilled assistance across Western New York,” said Legislator Rath.
For additional information, please contact Legislator Rath at 858-8676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.