Pendleton approves contract for deputy

Photograph by Benjamin JoeSheriff Mike Filicetti answers questions from the Pendleton Town Board as to what his department can do for the town’s issues of speeders in its jurisdiction through a $102,000 a-year contract with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.

Pendleton speeders will have an extra set of eyes on the road to avoid as the Pendleton Town Board and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office have finalized a new deal that will give Pendleton a full-time deputy and the Sheriff’s Office over $102,000 a-year.

Sheriff Mike Filicetti gave a brief summary of the five-year contact that Supervisor Joel Maerten had expressed an interest in, resulting in a four-to-one vote in favor of the new contract.

Councilman David Leible was the only dissenter.

Maerten said that with a known extra-law enforcement presence, crime would go down, specifically on problem areas where drivers are known to speed, as well as illegal, though popular, ATV trails in the Town of Pendleton.

“The limited patrols that we were purchasing, were effective,” Maerten said. “I would measure it by the amount of tickets we were writing, and we were having some very efficient deputies able to get on scene, set up, and write some tickets then get in to punch in after four hours. But these four hour shifts, despite being nice, aren’t having the effect we want. … People aren’t afraid to speed in the town, drive recklessly in the town, drive their dirt bikes in the road, drive their four-wheelers in the road.”

“The only way it’s going to have an effect is if people know that Pendleton has got somebody out there,” he said. “A lot.”

Leible disagreed.

“I think with a part time deputy here, if you can fill it, I think they’d do the same thing with it. Let the residents know that they’re here,” Leible said. “I think that’s going to slow it down. I think hiring a full-time deputy for as small a town we are – we’re bigger than we’ve ever been – but still not that big.”

Leible also said during a phone interview with the US&J that he believed there were other places that the money could be used, including a community center across from Mason’s Mission, an all inclusive playground.

Filicetti and Maerten were grilled on specifics by the board members, as well as by members of the audience who wanted to know to know the difference between what amount of police service the town was getting now compared to what it could with the new contract.

Maerten gave a brief history of law enforcement in Pendleton and noted that under Sheriff Voutour’s years of service there were liability issues in court security, which led to the creation of constables.

“Unless they made a separate arrangement,  (for example) Lewiston has its own police department, they created constables. … That’s why we created the constables a few years back,” Maerten said. “We have used the constables in assistance with park security situations, but there’s a line there. The town is not in the law enforcement business.”

Maerten said the town doesn’t have the resources for constables to write tickets and other actions, which brought them to this juncture. He noted Wheatfield as an example of a similar town.

“Constables take care of town property, but they (Wheatfield) still have a need to have contracts with the sheriff’s department take care of their additional law enforcement needs, traffic law, etc,” Maerten said.

For his part, Filicetti explained what the contract could give to the town. 

“My thought is that I wouldn’t be giving you a deputy right out of the academy, you’d be getting someone with years of service on, who’s interested in it, we’ll poll to see who would be interested in the position with some ties to the Pendleton area,” Filicetti said. “I would have to take it to the (Niagara County) Legislature for approval, but we’ve had one in Wheatfield for 20 years now.”

“We work with the town board to determine what we can do for you,” he continued. “If you want him or her on days or afternoons, if you decide you want them on a ATV trail at a certain time, that’s how we work with it in Wheatfield. We work with the town supervisor for a schedule and then move it around based on needs.”

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