JOHN GARCIA

To protect and serve Erie County with quality and compassion by using my combined experience as a proud first generation American with 25 years as a law enforcement professional, and as a relied upon private security business owner.

 

★ My Story

I was born in Spain in 1962, the youngest of five siblings. At that time Spain suffered under the rule of Fascist Dictator Francisco Franco.  In 1966, my entire family emigrated to America in pursuit of the American Dream.  As politics improved in Spain, I was fortunate to have parents that felt it important that I be bi-lingual and bi-cultural.  Therefore, I spent 7th through 10th grade studying in Spain while spending my summers in Black Rock.  Ultimately, I graduated from Grand Island High School.  I have vivid memories of the hardworking families who resided in the modest income areas of the City of Buffalo. They were good people but it was difficult for a kid who had not mastered English to fit in.  Assimilation was challenging. I was the outsider who spoke Spanish. In grade school, I was held back a year because I did not have a firm command of the English language.  As I matured, things improved and many close friends were made and endure today.  In my later high school years and through my entire collegiate career I worked in the restaurant business.  I was able to meet and interact with thousands of patrons. This experience enabled me to realize the importance of treating people from all walks of life in a dignified and respectful manner. Thereafter, these experiences dovetailed well with my career in law enforcement. The absolute essence of law enforcement is serving others.

After having attained a Bachelor’s in Political Science at Buffalo State College, I pursued a career in law enforcement.  As a law enforcement professional, I have worked in many capacities including, but not limited to the roles of uniformed police officer, gang suppression unit officer, district detective, narcotics detective, homicide detective, Commander of the Crisis Management Team and Commander of the Dignitary Protection Team. I have also worked collaboratively with many Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement entities where I have made innumerable connections.  Most recently, I have been employed as a criminal investigator for the Erie County Bar Association Aid to Indigent Prisoners Society, Inc.  In all of these assignments my bilingualism has been a proven asset.  I have been intimately involved with and responsible for investigating the most sensitive and/or heinous crimes law enforcers are called upon to investigate. As the commander of the aforementioned teams and as a principal owner of a private investigation and security company I have effectively dealt with budget and personnel constraints.  

Throughout my many and varied experiences, I learned early on that it is imperative to understand what factors may influence behaviors.  Invariably, everyone has a story.  Is the person we are dealing with a criminal?  Do they suffer from mental illness?  Does substance abuse exist?  Is an individual suffering financial hardship?  These are just a few of the myriad factors which could lead a person to run afoul of our societal expectations.  It is important to recognize that these situations need to be handled in accordance with their unique circumstances.

Law-enforcement reform is needed.  If law-enforcement reform means constantly striving to improve service by adjusting procedures and methods, modernizing equipment and increasing training, then I am all in. Any reform must meet the same goal:  to protect and serve all people, especially the most vulnerable.

Police exist to serve the community by preserving public safety and order. In the rare occasion where the use of force is required to fulfill the primary police function, it should always be minimized and measured. It is obviously preferable to employ de-escalation techniques. Remember, all arrest situations are confrontations and potential problems. It is important to recognize that someone is losing his or her freedom.

I do not think it is helpful to sensationalize individual cases, even those where police were obviously wrong and ascribe those crimes or deficiencies to law enforcement officers generally. It is illogical when you contemplate the hundreds of thousands of arrests that occur nationwide without incident.

Police officers are not policy makers but must enforce and obey laws as legislated.  I do believe that we need 2020 solutions for 2020 problems (i.e., opioid epidemic, mental illness, drug addiction, and violent crime). I also firmly believe that violent criminals must be imprisoned and given an opportunity at rehabilitation.  Conversely, I have developed an aversion to incarceration when dealing with the mentally ill, drug addicted, and/or low-level offenders.  More often than not, these situations demand compassion and professional intervention and this treatment should be applied with humanity. In short, I recognize the vital role policing plays in our society.  I firmly believe that police need to be present but not meddlesome.  Some of the executive fiats that emanate from Albany as well as the codification of the Safe Act and bail reform have been disastrous. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment as well as the Bill of Rights.  I am proud of the endorsement I have received from the 1791 Society.

While serving as the Commander of the Buffalo Police Crisis Management Team and as a Homicide Detective I have participated in and supervised others charged with resolving hundreds of volatile and desperate crises with life and death consequences.  I did not spend my career in a vacuum or behind a desk.  I can speak to the challenges law enforcement professionals face daily and I can do so in the first person.  I have been involved in numerous critical incidents.  I have been shot at and I have been shot.  On February 1st, 2010, I sustained a gunshot wound to the face while attempting to negotiate the surrender of an armed, barricaded and suicidal individual.  This individual had already fired his shotgun at uniformed Buffalo Police Officers and Buffalo Firefighters.  It was a bitter cold day and our communication equipment was not functioning properly.  As I moved closer to establish direct communications I was fired upon.  I received outstanding medical care at ECMC and was fortunate to return to work in three months.  I fully understand the inherent dangers my brothers and sisters in law enforcement encounter as we endeavor to keep our communities safe.

I have a deep, compassionate and personal understanding of what it means to lead with decisiveness when the stakes are high. As a homicide Detective, I have witnessed firsthand the carnage caused by murderous criminals, the opiate crisis and mental illness.  I have conducted many investigations that have resulted in the successful prosecution of murderers and drug dealers.  I have a background steeped in the support of those suffering from mental health issues and reference is made to my participation on the Erie County Mental Health Executive Board, my continued service as the Vice President of the NY Association of Hostage Negotiators as well as serving as a peer counselor for my fellow officers on the Western New York Law Enforcement Helpline.

As Erie County Sheriff, I will bring a lifetime of real world experience to the office.  I will impanel a team of highly skilled and committed professionals in an unparalleled effort to protect and serve the residents of Erie County.  I will work diligently to implement 21st century practices tailored to improving all facets of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.  Be assured, I will work tirelessly to restore and forge strong and trusting relationships with the residents of Erie County.  They deserve nothing less.  I will be honored to have your support as I seek to be the next Erie County Sheriff.

 

★ EDUCATIOn

  • B.A. Political Science, State University College at Buffalo, 1987
  • Colegio De Formación Profesional Santander, Spain: 1979
  • Buffalo Police Academy: 1994
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations Training Academy: 2011

★ CERTIFICATIONS

  • Crisis Negotiations Certifications, FBI Academy
  • Erie County Central Police Investigator School, Instructor 
  • Graduate – New York State Instructor Developmental School 

★ MEMBERSHIPS & AFFILIATIONS

  • Buffalo Police Benevolent Association
  • Republican Party
  • Gold Shield Association
  • Detective and Detective Sergeants Association
  • New York Association of Hostage Negotiators, Vice President
  • Erie County Mental Health Association, Past Board of Directors
  • Canadian American Law Enforcement Organization
  • WNY Law Enforcement Helpline
  • NRA
  • The 1791 Society
  • Assumption RC Parish
  • Sandy Beach Yacht Club
  • Amherst Youth Soccer Association
  • Amherst Youth Basketball Association
  • Jewish Community Center