Security Cuts Proposed for Rath Building

October 19, 2010 Updated Oct 19, 2010 at 6:50 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

October 19, 2010 Updated Oct 19, 2010 at 6:50 PM EDT

Security at some Erie County offices could face some drastic cuts if the county executive's proposed budget is adopted. The Erie County Sheriff's Office currently has 11 deputies who work inside the Rath building in downtown Buffalo and provide security for social services offices at two nearby offices as well. Under the proposed budget though the number of deputies on that detail would drop from eleven to just three.

During Tuesday's Erie County Legislature budget session several lawmakers expressed safety concerns over the proposed cuts. Sheriff's officials say those deputies deal with 3-4 disorderly conduct calls in the Rath building every day in addition to other types of safety calls. Sheriff Timothy Howard says the deputies are needed because of very the nature of social services which can involve emotion-filled child custody cases and decisions that affect people's finances.

"The individuals that would come to a social services office because of their financial or some other issue like the custody of their children are very emotional issues we are dealing with and obviously would or could result in unlawful conduct or people striking out at the messenger," explains Sheriff Howard.

Howard says the Rath building deputy positions used to be funded by a state grant but that funding is no longer available.

Rath building security is just one matter the county legislature is considering during this week's budget hearings. On Tuesday lawmakers will hear testimony from several other department heads including the library which is slated for a considerable cut under the proposed budget.