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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz increases security after receiving threats

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 18:03:30-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is now traveling with two armed sheriff's deputies.

He explained in a tweet that after several alarming incidents, he's going to have a security detail accompanying him.

"If you are a public official, you know, you need to be conscious of the fact that people may have differences of opinion with you," said Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo. "And sometimes those differences of opinion can lead to threatening messages, threatening actions."

Poloncarz explained in the tweet that a suspicious package was recently hand-delivered to his office.

It was addressed to him as "personal and confidential." It turned out that nothing inside was dangerous but building security was on alert.

This happened on March 15. Five days later, Poloncarz called police after an incident at his Buffalo home.

Captain Rinaldo said he cannot share exactly what happened because of an on-going investigation, but he said the first thing to do in a situation like this is to report it to the police.

"You might be experiencing some type of threatening behavior that another politician is experiencing. But since he didn't report it, there's no way to know that this person is doing this across multiple different people," he said.

Republican legislator Lynn Dixon, who is planning to challenge Poloncarz for his seat this fall, wants more information about the threats and the cost of the security detail.

"I have questions as to how somebody could have made it past security in the Rath building - because there is security - and gotten to the 16th floor and delivered a package," she said.

Poloncarz was not made available to speak with 7 Eyewitness News on Wednesday, but said on social media he hopes the security presence will be temporary.

The Erie County Sheriff's Office is providing the deputies who accompany the county executive.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Sheriff's Office to try to get answers to the questions Republicans are asking, but has not heard back.