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Erie County comptroller claims new budget defunds police; sheriff's office proposed cuts

Sheriff's office officials said they had worked closely with the county budget department and county executive during a difficult financial period.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The news release stating that Erie county lawmakers voted to quote "defund the police" came out Friday from County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, and it specifically refers to cuts in the Erie County Sheriff's Office.  

So 2 On Your Side checked with the sheriff's office, which said they worked closely with the county budget department and county executive in this difficult financial period.

In discussions with their unions, they came up with proposed corrections officers cuts from the jail division in their own spending plan that the sheriff's office felt was fiscally sound. The sheriff's office feels their plan was pretty much in line with the newly approved county budget.

We pressed Mychajliw on these points in a Zoom interview. WGRZ asked, were any road deputies cut in this budget? 

Mychajliw replied, "It's my understanding that they were a lot of vacant positions and guards at the holding center."

Reporter: "Right, but your statement makes it sound like deputies who would go out on patrol in the community are impacted in the sheriff's department. Clarify that for us because that's gonna concern people."

Mychajliw: "I don't think it concerns people at all. The fact is that the Democratic majority voted at the end of the day to eliminate officers within the office of Erie County Sheriff out of the budget. That's a fact."

Channel 2 and others reported last summer that the sheriff's office presented a plan for reduced operations at the Erie County Holding Center with a smaller inmate population, and yes, potential job cuts for jail deputies through attrition or retirements. 

We also spoke with county Legislator Kevin Hardwick who was heavily criticized by Mychajliw. Hardwick said this about the jail deputy cuts.

"The jail facilities, the holding center and the correctional facility in Alden are together about one third of capacity for a number of reasons. And I think the sheriff has been very good about cooperating with the county executive, cooperating with the legislature -- he's a professional who knows that we -- that this is an area - especially in this COVID environment where we need to save money," Hardwick said.

Reporter: "The sheriff's office themselves proposed these cuts. You're saying defund the police. So I guess the sheriff's office defunded the police, didn't they?

Mychajliw: I think that's a question for the Erie County Sheriff."