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Lawmaker questions staffing issues and overtime spending at Erie County Sheriff's Office

Posted at 6:41 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 18:41:56-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Questions are being raised after 7 News reporting about concerns over staffing shortages in the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

Joseph Lorigo, Erie County's Minority Leader, wants to know why, after years of fulfilling requests to beef up staffing in the county's two corrections facilities, are there still staffing and overtime issues.

"We've added positions before. We've made changes to correctional health. We've done everything that has been asked of by previous administrations and as has been required of us by the commission of corrections. Nothing has had an impact," said Lorigo.

Sheriff John Garcia told 7 News that last year, the Sheriff's Office paid out 225,000 hours in overtime last year, amounting to 9.5 million dollars. He days they're on pace to blow past that amount this year.

According to budget data, since 2013 the Sheriff's Office has blown past its budgeted overtime every year except in 2014.

Garcia says in order to fulfill state mandates at the Erie County Holding Center and Alden Correctional, he needs more staff and more funding.

"The Sheriff needs to come over and explain to us why overtime is consistently out of control, and whether hiring additional officers is going to have any impact," said Lorigo.

Budget data shows the Sheriff's Office has added at least 95 positions in the last decade, although Garcia says 40 were cut in 2020 and only a fraction were recovered.

Garcia will be asking the Legislature for new money during budget hearings this summer to address staffing.

"I need to hear it from him, and then we as a body need to deliberate and decide whether or not what he's asking for is feasible," said Lorigo.