“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