Onondaga County sheriff

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

For the first time in 20 years, Onondaga County has a new sheriff in town.  Republican Gene Conway beat Democrat challenger Toby Shelley on Election Day, pulling in 53 percent of the vote.  He says he has ideas about new initiatives in the department.

“Obviously I have in my mind things that I think could work better. Some of those are based on my career as police chief in the town of Dewitt.  I’ll be certainly looking for suggestions from the rank and file,” said Conway.

This edition of the Campbell Conversations begins a series of joint conversations this fall with candidates in contested races for elected positions.  This week the two candidates for Onondaga County Sheriff join host Grant Reeher, in their first shared appearance.  Republican Gene Conway and Democrat Toby Shelley discuss their background and experience, the need to make changes at the sheriff's department, their vision for greater cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in the county, and just how vigorously they'll enforce the SAFE Act. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Onondaga County Comptroller’s Office will start an audit of so-called take home cars used by employees of various county agencies after the work day is done.

Onondaga County Legislator Chris Ryan says the idea is to get a kind of macro look at how county employees use these government-owned vehicles.

"What we’re trying to find out through an audit, is the amount of vehicles out there, how many miles, what are they being used for, how many times have they been responding out of hours with such vehicles,” Ryan explained.

Onondaga County Sheriff's Office

The New York State Police helicopter operation based in has moved to Rochester, which will cause a gap in air support for police investigations and rescues in central New York. Onondaga County’s Air One helicopter will still fly, but needs more funding to provide those services.

Before the state police helicopter moved, the troopers generally took care of calls during the day, and Onondaga County’s Air One handled them in the evening. County Sheriff Kevin Walsh says the county’s crime fighting helicopter can’t fill those day time hours at this time.

As New York state passes the first anniversary of the SAFE Act in New York state this week, confusion still reigns for many about the controversial gun control law. A forum this weekend in Syracuse hopes to clear up some of the questions for sportsmen and sportswomen in particular.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh announced Monday morning that e will retire after 20 years in the position.

While Walsh made the decision public at an event in downtown Syracuse, he said it's something he has known he would do for quite a while.

"I pretty much had made my decision at the end of the last election.  But I was not join going to commit one way or this other until I had to commit, in case things changed and I decided I wanted to do another term," said Walsh. "I didn't want to be accused of flip flopping."

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County lawmakers are putting a tighter reign on spending at the sheriff's department. The legislature approved the county's 2014 $1.2 billion budget Tuesday night. It included a budget maneuver that give's lawmakers more control over department spending that has come in substantially over budget the last few years, according to legislature chairman Ryan McMahon.

Onondaga County residents who want to get a pistol permit, are still seeing waits of more than 14 months to get an initial interview needed to get that permit.  But, county officials are expediting the purchase of a computer program that should move things along.

It'll be about a month before new software replaces the index cards Onondaga County Sheriff's deputies now use to process pistol permits, and start to make a dent in the wait for a permit hearing. County Legislator Kevin Holmquist says one of the reasons it took so long to award a contract for the software, was the state's new gun control law, called the NY SAFE Act.

As the deadline for the "opt-out" portion of the New York SAFE Act passed Wednesday, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department was still wading through thousands of forms from gun owners who don't want their pistol permit information available to the public.