About the Niagara County
On April 2, 1821, Niagara County separated
from what became Erie County, retaining all lands north of Tonawanda Creek. By this time that area contained the original
towns of Niagara, Lewiston, Porter, Wilson, Cambria, Hartland and Royalton. The county seat was first located in the Village
of Lewiston, and the first court session of the newly divided county held at the school house in Lewiston in what is today
known as Academy Park.
Today, the Niagara County Sheriff’s
Department is a modern law enforcement agency where sheriff deputies use red and white patrol vehicles to respond to calls
for service. The Niagara County Sheriff’s Department deputies in the patrol division work frozen shifts, 8:00 am to
4:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 12:00 pm, 12:00 pm to 8:00 am, assignment is based on seniority. A Sheriff's Captain and Sergeant supervise
each shift. The twelve towns in the county are divided into zones numbered 1 through 12. A deputy is assigned to patrol a
designated zone responding to calls in that area.
Like most county sheriff’s,
the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department has a large custody function. The first Niagara County Jail, built in the Village
of Buffalo, was completed in 1810. The structure, a solidly built stone building had been erected just north of the courthouse
on Washington Street. In 1813, the British invaded and burned the village including the jail. Fortunately, the building being
so solid suffered little damage. After some rehabilitation, the building served as the jail until Erie County constructed
a new one in 1867. After the redistricting of Erie and Niagara Counties in 1821, all county buildings were retained by Erie
County. Until Niagara County could build a jail of its own, prisoners continued to be housed in the Buffalo facility.
In addition to patrol and custody
functions, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department has a number of specialized functions such as the Aviation Unit;
Civil Process Division; Communications; Community Services; Crime Scene Identification; Criminal Investigation Bureau; DARE
(Drug Abuse Resistance Education); Domestic Violence; Drug Task Force; Forensic Lab; Juvenile Bureau; Law Enforcement Academy;
Marine Division; Mounted Division; Records Department; Transport, Court & Building Security Division; Underwater Recovery;
Victims Assistance Unit; Warrant Division; Welfare Fraud Unit; and, youth Explorer Program
The Niagara County Sheriff’s
Department Aviation Unit consists of three Bell Jet Ranger helicopters, four pilots and eight tactical flight officers. The
unit performs aviation operations in support of the Niagara County Sheriff Department and local police agencies. Typical operations
include drug interdiction, search and rescue operations and aerial surveillance. Unit members must pass flight physicals and
be trained in a wide variety of equipment that is used during the normal unit operations.