Unless you are a completely partisan hack, there is absolutely no way you can look at Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard's tenure as a success. Multiple deaths and suicides in the Erie County Holding Center, mistaken releases, and Ralph "Bucky" Phillips jailbreak that cost one New York State Trooper his life. Add the lawsuits that have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, and the attention drawn to the mismanagement and horrible jail conditions by the federal government.
Yep, no way you can look at Howard as a success.
At a press conference on Friday, February 22nd, Richard Dobson, a 32-year veteran of the Erie County Sheriff's Office (ECSO) announced his candidacy for Sheriff. "Things will be different," Dobson said as addressed the litany of concerns the community has expressed about the current Sheriff. "We need to reset our priorities."
Dobson began his career at the Sheriff's Department after serving his country in the United States Air Force. He joined the department as a Deputy and over the years worked his way up through the ranks, being promoted to sergeant, lieutenant, and eventually watch commander. Dobson worked for six different Erie County Sheriffs, from both political parties, and he is quick to point out that he learned from all of them.
After retiring from the Sheriff's Department, Dobson went on to be a supervisory officer with the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces.
When asked about his most serious concerns, he cited a current practice of favoritism in the Sheriff's Department, vowing to provide employees with a "clear promotional ladder." Dobson said that the current system has taken a toll on department morale.
Dobson remained calm and cool as he talked about the many things he hoped to affect. It was clear that, as a result of his long career at ECSO, he had a very strong grasp of the situation in the department.
Affirming his concern for the current state of the department, Dobson lamented a long list of training and other programs which would have positively impacted the department. These programs went unfunded "As a result of the litigations and lawsuits, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars went out the window," he said.
Dick Dobson is a personable man and a clearly qualified candidate for the office. He is passionate about the department he refers to as "a family," and it was clear that he would be up to the challenge of bringing the Sheriff's department back to being a functional and well-run organization - something Erie County hasn't seen in a decade under Tim Howard.
The Dobson for Sheriff campaign has set up a website for more information.