Sheriff-elect Scott Cicirello is reporting new initiatives as he becomes head of the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office NY, next month, with a retired State Police senior investigator taking over his current job as undersheriff.
Cicirello introduced his designated replacement, Walter Mackney, Tuesday night at a county legislators’ district meeting in Andover, Mackney’s home town.
Drug issues, welfare fraud and coordination among the county’s law enforcement agencies are among items on the list for the new law enforcement head who will replace three-term Sheriff Rick Whitney who is retiring at the end of the year after 47 years in law enforcement, including a dozen heading the county department.
Cicirello was appointed Whitney’s undersheriff in August of last year following retirement the year before after 25 years as a state trooper and then as a member of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, followed by interim service as an Allegany County District Attorney’s Office investigator.
Mackney retired in 2014 as a senior investigator and has been serving as a part-time officer with the Cuba Police Department and a Steuben County District Attorney’s investigator and Narcotics Task Force Coordinator. He ran unsuccessfully for sheriff against Whitney four years ago in the Republican Primary.
The new undersheriff’s expertise in his current positions, along with former service as part of the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team and as commander of the Southern Tier Regional Task Force, will be used in his new role.
Mackney oversaw thousands of drug investigations and hundreds of arrests during his state police tenure, according to Cicirello, as the investigator established and maintained relationships with numerous agencies, including the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Human Services and federal prosecutors.
Drug epidemic in Allegany County
The new sheriff told public officials and members of the public this week that there is a “drug epidemic” in Allegany County, to which the sheriff’s department will be providing support for mitigation.
He said there are drug dealers operating in the area in which he lives in Wellsville, noting he has had his truck broken into twice, indicating he will be seeking to help establish coordinated response to this and other public safety issues throughout the county.
A new computerized records management system, which is expected to be purchased with federal pandemic relief funds, will provide agencies for the first time with information as to what is going on throughout the county.
County Legislator James Rumfelt, who also serves as Andover police chief, told the audience that the only way police departments had access to this type of information in the past was during periodic inter-agency meetings.
Welfare fraud an issue
Cicirello said his department also will have a greater role in pursuing welfare fraud cases, which he indicated is another significant problem.
He panned the current bail reform laws, saying they are the “worst legislation” he has seen in his lifetime, negatively affecting everyone’s quality of life.
A new central booking system being established at the county jail will enable individuals who aren’t eligible for appearance tickets and immediate release under current law, to be placed in holding cells at the facility to await arraignment, freeing up law enforcement officers who currently spend two to three hours in processing such cases to return to their duties.
This doesn’t overcome obstacles associated with individuals who are released and then commit more crimes, it was noted.
Rumfelt cited an example of a recent defendant who was arrested three times in one night as a result of a domestic situation and had to be released each time under bail reform laws.
Cicirello said that current policies have established a feeling of “entitlement” on the part of many defendants who are aware of shortcomings in the law, thereby eliminating aspects of accountability and significant consequences for their actions.
When individuals are arrested and immediately put back out on the street, the law enforcement officer said the public stops reporting crimes because they feel nothing will be done about them.
Pistol permit issues
In an associated area, the current undersheriff said that new pistol permit regulations, combined with court challenges, have left the sheriff’s office not knowing from day-to-day what law to follow.
He said he hopes to develop easy-to-understand printed information for the public so people can know what the current law is in regard to pistol permits.
The sheriff-elect noted that the department currently operates the county jail, serves civil paper, provides security at the courthouse and county facilities, and oversees the 911 Center.
Road patrols currently unneeded
There always is discussion in regard to the department providing road patrols, Cicirello said, but he doesn’t feel a need currently due to existence of several local police departments and a strong state police presence at both Amity (Belmont) and Fillmore.
Mackney told the gathering that he is “honored and humbled” to be chosen for the undersheriff’s position, with Cicirello saying that he “looks forward to working with Walt and continuing the high level of service that residents of Allegany County have come to expect from the Sheriff’s Office.”
Photo: Allegany County Sheriff-elect Scott Cicirello, left, and Undersheriff-designee Walter Mackney attended this week’s county legislators’ public meeting in Andover.
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