“Community support for law enforcement is nothing new. The support given by our members, their family, neighbors, friends, and the public in general to the Badge & Shield Club for our Weidner’s Chicken BBQ on May 4th was overwhelming. We sold out of 300 chicken dinners in 90 minutes! I have to apologize to anyone who came later and couldn’t get a dinner. We are looking forward to our next fundraising Chicken BBQ on July 8th at the Hamburg Rod & Gun Club (3434 Hickox Rd, Hamburg, NY 14075). We also have our upcoming Meat Raffle on October 21st, so mark your calendars. Thank you to all the members who helped. And a special thank you to Stacy Flick for arranging her Fire Hall for us. We have returned to a March date (2024) for our annual Retirement & Awards Dinner. Unlike previous years, the Club is not presently soliciting the public with a professional fundraiser. We need the fundraisers we are organizing to help finance the annual retirement and awards program. To give our dedicated public servants acknowledgement for the career and public service they have provided these many years is the right thing to do. It is the salient event our Club offers and as your president, I am grateful that we still have the ability to honor our own. If you know of a business or individual that would like recognition as the premier sponsor of our dinner, please reach out to them, identify your contact to me, and we will follow up. Recently I came across a program for a Testimonial Dinner held on October 20, 1965, honoring then Sheriff B. John Tutuska. It was organized by local business people. A lot of the names may be familiar to some of you. It was held at the Glen Casino, a prime Williamsville venue in its day. Some of the chairs of the event were Walter Steffan, Mildren Campbell, Raymond Wardynski (meats), and Joseph Palanker (furs). Notables listed: Tom Ryan, the County Republican Chairman, Undersheriff Leo Kennedy, Charles Diebold, President of Western Savings Bank, Rev. Carl Burke, Champlain – Erie County Jail, and Miss Elayne J. Taylor, Coordinator of the “Tutuska-teers “. The Tutuska Teers were a group of young ladies, like cheerleaders, who traveled to political events, fundraisers, and parties. They sang and performed while introducing Sheriff Tutuska to those attending. They warmed up the audience, like an opening act, in anticipation of the Sheriff’s arrival. I’ve been told that many of the deputy’s wives, girlfriends, and maybe even wives-to-be were part of this entourage. They had their own song that started out: “B. John Tutuska is a dedicated man…” (when you see Sam Amato ask him to sing a few bars for you). The National Anthem was performed by the Business Representative, Painters District Council No.4 and the main address was given by the Vice-President of American Airlines, Harvey G. Foster. What an extravaganza! It is a prime example of how the community went all-out
Good food and camaraderie were enjoyed by the 41 members and 8 guests at our April meeting at Danny’s North on Genesee Street. If you are looking for a nice place to take a date or the family out to eat, Danny’s is a good choice, whether in Cheektowaga or their Orchard Park location. Due to a glitch, there was no split club this month. The Badge & Shield Club has a rich history of serving its members and the community. Our club has volunteered for the Channel 17 Auction, the Variety Club Telethon, and various other community events and organizations. Next month the Club will celebrate its 67th year anniversary. Its constitution and by-laws were filed before NY State Supreme Court Justice Geo. H. Rowe on May 21, 1956. Its Board of Directors came from every part of the County – From Buffalo: Joe Gullo, Vermont St., Tom Hassett, McKinley Pkwy., Valentine Dzuik, Burgard Pl., lrm Mitchell, Royal Ave., Anthony Palermo, S. Division St., Gene Donohue, Delaware Ave., William Buyers, Tennyson Ave.; From Lackawanna: Mitchell Kukoleca, Gates Ave.; and From Grand Island: Philip Fahrer, E. River Rd. The annual dues in 1956 were $10. All things considered, the dues have not increased much since. The Club’s first president was Joe Gullo. He was the Chief of Patrol when I started in 1973. The purpose of the Club was to “cultivate social intercourse among its members”, as found on page 4 of its by-laws. Previously serving as the Club’s 6th (1977-1978) and now as the 14th President of the Badge & Shield Club, I challenge you, our members, to get involved, attend meetings, contribute to the newsletter, serve on a committee, and support our Club’s events and fundraising activities.
Happy spring to all our members and your families! Our March meeting at B&W’s BBQ on Lake Avenue was attended by 40+ members. Dick Sojka won the split club ($105). It pays ($) to be a member! Chief Tom Staebell (retired) and I met recently over lunch. Our discussion took us down memory lane, reminiscing about some of the women and men who preceded us in the Sheriff’s Office, and others who we had worked for and with. What we realized in conversation was how many of the men who served as Sheriff of Erie County came from the ranks of the Buffalo Police Department (BPD). Although we named many off the top of our heads, Tom did some research and is continuing with more at the Buffalo History Museum. I recommend a visit to the museum on Nottingham Terrace – it is full of information about our region. Information can also be found at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Here is what Tom shares about the sheriffs: Arthur Britt, 1942-1955 (BPD), he was the last Sheriff I know ofto live at 10 Delaware Ave.; Robert Glasser 1956-1959 (BPD), upon leaving office was appointed as the head of the state’s harness racing commission; Glasser’s Undersheriff, B. John Tutuska (BPD)1959-1969, later Sheriff Tutuska, was tapped to be the Erie County Executive when then County Executive Ed Rath passed away in office; Tom Ryan (BPD)1969 served a year in B. John’s place, lost the election to Chief Mike Amico (BPD) “The Crime Fighter” 1970-1976, a veteran military aviator who also held a law degree; Amico was not retained in the 1976 November election; Ken Braun, who was an Amherst police officer won the job as Sheriff. Braun was a former Marine, a WWII vet like Amico, he served 9 years with the BPD before heading to a suburban police force. Braun appointed Tom Higgins as Undersheriff, former BPD Lieutenant. After Braun decided not to run again, Higgins ran and won (1986-1997) a hotly contested campaign against another BPD officer, Stan Bolas. Stan was later appointed the Commissioner of Erie County Central Police Services. Buffalo PD, in a long tradition, has now provided the Office of Sheriff with the County’s 54th Sheriff, John Garcia. In addition to the many candidates, both men and women, elected Sheriff from the BPD there are even more BPD members who ran in a general or primary election(s) seeking to attain the job as Sheriff. I have taken my editorial liberties as it relates to Tom’s research for this column. Thank you, Chief Staebell, for compiling and sharing this information. We look forward to the fruits of your research from the museum in a future newsletter and welcome our members to contribute to this column.
We had 42 members and guests at February’s meeting hosted at the American Legion Post on Wehrle Drive. Food was provided by John Fleming of the Smokin’ Little Diner, 4870 Broadway in Depew. The meal was plentiful and delicious! John does a great job catering, and his diner is a good stop for dinner or take-out. Marty Kerl won the split club receiving $75.00! It pays to attend meetings! Keep our Club strong, attend our meetings and participate in our fundraising efforts. Our first Chicken BBQ will be held on Thursday, May 4th, 2023 from 3pm to 6pm at the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Department located at 4591 Lake Shore Road in Hamburg. We need your help with pre-sale ticket orders and assistance at the Fire Hall the day of the BBQ to make this fund raiser a success. History continued…In 1940, H. William Pollack was Sheriff of Erie County. The world was in havoc with Hitler’s insurrections and invasions in Europe. In the USA there were major spying concerns within our borders. The authority and power of the elected Office of Sheriff became most important in national security matters. Annually, all elected officials had to file an annual report with the then County’s Board of Supervisors (now the Legislature.) I’d like to share a few items with you contained in Sheriff Pollack’s 1940 year-end report: In addition to various meetings relative to National Defense and subversive activities, the FBI has on several occasions assigned to the Department (Sheriff) cases for investigation pertaining to espionage, sabotage, or subversive activities. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democra,t defeats Republican Wendell Willkie, in a landslide being elected to an unprecedented 3rd term. On November 2, 1940, he visited our area, detraining in the Town of Tonawanda, visiting the Bell and Curtis plants, then moving on to Lackawanna and a stop at Bethlehem Steel before getting back on a train in Blasdell and departing the area. The report lists 60 deputies, working with the US Secret Service, assigned to the President’s visit at various locations throughout the city and county. Next month watch for more information and some interesting statistics to share with you on the 1940 annual Sheriff’s report. The answer from last month’s newsletter question concerning the 62 Counties of New York State and having only 58 Sheriff’s is: On January 1, 1942, New York City’s five county sheriff’s offices were merged to become the Office of the Sheriff of the City of New York. The city’s five county (boroughs) sheriffs were abolished and replaced with borough “chief deputies” (later Undersheriffs) reporting to the NYC Mayor’s newly appointed citywide Sheriff. The Sheriff kept his civil, court, and jail responsibilities. The NYPD undertook all policing duties in the boroughs and later a NY City Corrections Department assumed responsibility for the jails. Now you know!
“The Sheriff answered the Call” – Once again, I am reaching the history of the Sheriff’s Office (established 1821) and reflecting on Erie County’s chief law enforcement officer’s response to crisis. Here are some examples of the Sheriff’s leadership… During WWII with concerns about Nazi sabotage and spying – Erie County Sheriff deputies were assigned to patrol local airports. After Sept. 11th, a similar process was put into place by the Sheriff to have deputies checking the 11 local private airports, on days of Bills home games. In 1972, work began to build a stadium in Orchard Park, with parking lots to hold an estimated 15,000 vehicles. The Buffalo Bills’ first game at Rich Stadium was held on August 17, 1973, to a sold-out crowd. The Erie County Sheriff was the only department in the area capable enough to take command at the new stadium with a 100 + “stadium detail” to manage pedestrian and vehicular traffic. That responsibility is still in place today, plus an additional 100 + deputies inside the stadium for security purposes. In 1988, when the County budget process strangled the Sheriffs ability to staff, train, and buy supplies for his deputies, then Sheriff Thomas Higgins along with business executives, formed the Erie County Sheriffs Foundation to supplement the needs of the Sheriffs Office. Recognizing a similar need for local police agencies, the name of the organization was later changed to the Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation, Inc. and is still very active in providing services to police across WNY and Canada today Chris Clark President
We had over 60 members and guests at our last meeting at the Grapevine in Depew. Thank you to all for coming out. For those in attendance, it was obvious that the room provided by the Grapevine could not adequately accommodate all of us. This is why we stress how important it is to let us know if you will be attending. It is not only about the food but also seating. If we continue to try and find venues to keep our costs down, we need to have close to exact numbers in order to have enough food and seating for everyone. Our next meeting on October 17th will be our nomination meeting. Louise Mcfeely has submitted her resignation as the director of retirees; also, Ken Napora is looking for someone to assume the position of treasurer. It is very important for members to consider running for an office. Every organization needs new fresh blood and ideas to carry out its mission. In addition to nominations, the membership will be asked to vote on the issue of whether or not alcohol should be served at our monthly meetings. You need to attend the meeting if you want your opinion to count. The Badge and Shield club will be celebrating its mission of honoring our fellow employees at the 44th annual retirement and awards dinner on Saturday October 22nd, 2022.