CANANDAIGUA — When Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson looks back on 2019, his first year on the job, one case quickly comes to mind.
The investigation of a body found near Route 96 in Phelps last August that led to murder charges against two Rochester men. The trial is still on hold due to COVID-19.
“We dealt with some challenges, such as the homicide in Phelps,” Henderson said. “That was not an easy case.”
Henderson and Undersheriff Dave Frasca recently released the sheriff’s office annual report, which details 2019 accomplishments and goals for 2020. It also includes statistics for numerous divisions including road patrol, criminal investigations, special investigations (drugs), marine patrol, 911 Center, SWAT Team, K-9 unit, and more.
“The bottom line is I have faith in the men and women who work here and do their job well on a daily basis,” Henderson said. “The training we give our deputies, investigators and others is second to none.”
Here are some highlights in the report:
• The corrections division (jail) was re-accredited last June for a five-year period.
• The sheriff’s office made staffing changes to accommodate the Raise the Age legislation.
• Updated the Child Abduction Response Team manual to reflect changes.
• Upgraded the sheriff’s office phone systems, both 911 and non-emergency, with the latest technology including RapidSOS software, which improves 911 caller location accuracy.
• The sheriff’s office processed about 1,000 crime/crash scenes last year, and the accident reconstruction unit investigated seven crashes that involved serious injury or death. Three of those crashes were fatal, and one involved alcohol/drug use.
• The 911 Center processed nearly 177,000 calls and dispatches last year, including traffic stops. That was more than 5,000 more than 2018.
• The SWAT Team, which includes members from the sheriff’s office, Clifton Springs Police Department, Canandaigua PD and most recently Geneva PD, responded to 10 incidents last year. It also took part in a full-scale, multi-agency active shooter scenario at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center and trained at Fort Drum.
• The Crisis Negotiations Team, which responds to incidents involving armed barricaded subjects or hostage recovery situations, responded to several incidents resulting in peaceful conclusions.
• The special investigations (drug) unit arrested 75 people on various charges, including felonies and misdemeanors. It also investigated 43 drug overdoses and several fatalities, arresting a Gorham man for manslaughter.
The report also includes stats on cyber crime, welfare fraud, sex offender management, courthouse security, and the jail.
Henderson encourages people to read the report and talk to an officer if they see one.
“We put a lot of data in the report ... but what I am most proud of is we support the community beyond going to work every day. We call it community engagement,” he said. “We have deputies that volunteer in their local fire department, volunteer at churches, do fundraisers. We are part of the community.”