BUFFALO — During its March 7 session, the Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a request from the sheriff’s office, to allocate asset forfeiture funds to purchase equipment and attend training to help deputies prepare and respond to an active shooting. A total of $340,800 will cover equipment purchases and training sessions.
A portion of the funds will be used to purchase police tools and supplies, for the Special Weapons and Tactics Team. The sheriff’s office also identified a need to equip patrol cars with bolt cutters and sledgehammers, which may be used by personnel facing bolted, chained or padlocked doors, when responding to an emergency.
“This equipment gives deputies the tools needed, to carry out their job,” said Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo. “When reacting to a critical incident or emergency, our deputies and detectives need to be prepared to respond to whatever they may encounter. The asset forfeiture funds have been an enormous benefit to the county and I am pleased the Legislature approved the transfer, supporting this much-needed funding proposal, to support the sheriff’s office.”
Undersheriff Mark Wipperman said that this equipment purchase request was done in direct response to issues law enforcement learned about, following the shooting at Sandy Hook and other, similar incidents.
A portion of the funds will be used for training. Most individuals in the sheriff’s office patrol services division will complete the active shooting training by mid-April. This preparation places deputies in real-time scenarios and teaches them how to handle these situations.
The sheriff’s office also identified necessary purchases for the Investigative Services Bureau and its crime scene investigators.
Asset forfeiture funds are financial assets recovered, after the arrest and prosecution of criminals or the proceeds from auctioning off vehicles and other items confiscated, during a criminal or narcotics investigation. These funds are reinvested to fight crime and equip law enforcement officers.
“The sheriff’s office plays a pivotal role in patrolling and protecting the community,” Lorigo said. “The deputies also provide assistance to agencies throughout Erie County and neighboring counties, during times of need. This equipment and training will benefit our entire region.”