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Institute changes to prevent mistaken release of inmates

It is true that thousands of people pass through the care and custody of the Erie County Sheriff's Department as inmates each year. It is also true that with the volume of paperwork that is handled by the booking and records section of the Holding Center, there will be an occasional human error.

However, this is not the first time that a suspect has been mistakenly released, and it won't be the last. It's time for the jail management team to revamp the entire release process. Additional training should be instituted for all deputies and civilian employees. Some paperwork can be complex and confusing. Training should include the various types of paperwork that are handled on a daily basis, such as commitment from a local court, the difference between an arrest warrant and a bench warrant, and the difference between a hold for the grand jury and a grand jury indictment.

Additionally, maybe the sheriff can arrange a committee to meet with the Court Clerks Association. At present, most courts have different shape and size commitments. It would be much easier to read and interpret a standardized commitment. Maybe instead of having several people check a release from custody, the superintendent should appoint a single person to specialize in the review of all paperwork prior to release.

Finally, why was an inmate charged with attempted murder being held in the Erie County Correctional Facility? The Holding Center downtown is much more secure. Discipline is a learning tool, and in this case I think it is appropriate. These erroneous releases seem to be a recurring event at the Holding Center. How many more errors must be made before we have a fatality? Something has to be changed.

Gary Lickfeld

Buffalo

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Obama should adopt strategy to trim deficit

I see President Obama has taken a position of lowering demand, as opposed to increasing supply, as a way to lower gas prices. I wish he would adopt the same position when dealing with the budget and spending. Then we may actually be able to reduce the national deficit.

Al Grabowski

Elma

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Rural Metro does great job in spite of broken system

Emergency medical service is a complex system, with various levels of care and response. In a city the size of Buffalo, it is a system collapsing under the weight of Medicaid abuse, operating at an average of 6 percent below cost, which is why municipal services fail in an urban setting. It is also a system collapsing under the weight of emergency room overcrowding and understaffing.

I've been in this business for 22 years, and we have never faced delays in emergency rooms like we do today. If I take a patient to Millard Suburban, I know I'm going to be there for three hours or more, in a hallway, waiting for a bed for my patient, who remains on my stretcher. It's the same at Buffalo General, ECMC and Mercy. This is the rule, not the exception. When did this become acceptable?

In light of this and the increased call volume, it is imperative that we work with the ambulance board to overhaul the system. The old contract requirements were inadequate and outdated. Staffing had to change, although there's really no way to staff for those losses.

Non-emergent calls have to be held; few actually require an emergency room, let alone an ambulance. The system is broken and it is being held back by municipalities too overwhelmed by the problem to fix it.

Various positive changes were implemented by Rural Metro well before the articles appeared. Paramedic fly-cars are used in the city, decreasing the ETA for arrival of advanced life support, and keeping medics in service if the call doesn't require advanced care. Staffing has been increased throughout the city based on computer data regarding high-volume times, and new postings employed based on data regarding high-volume areas and overall ease of access. "Float" cars -- rigs that aren't assigned to any specific area -- are used. They are dynamic, moving according to call volume.

We answered staffing challenges by implementing the Rural Metro Academy, hiring area residents, providing them with paid training and employing them as EMTs. We've implemented in-house training for each level of care, to ensure our patients receive the best care from the best providers.

Denise Cuillo

EMT-P, Rural Metro Medical Services

Blasdell

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We don't want to return to those 'good old days'

A contributor to Everybody's Column longs for the good old days when "communities dealt severely with pregnancies in unmarried women" and weddings were forced at gunpoint (sounds like the Taliban). He seems to forget that in that rose-tinted past he envisions, thousands died yearly from an assortment of STDs, and that abortions were as convenient as the nearest coat hanger. And if the woman died, well, then she was certainly "severely dealt with." Yes, times have changed. It's called progress.

Paul Tenser

Springville

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Federal employees deserve pensions they were promised

I am a federal employee working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. I work with a dedicated group of people and we are proud of what we do every day for those in our community. We are committed to our jobs and public service, which is why the ongoing attacks on federal workers are so disappointing and dispiriting.

It seems that nearly every day, a candidate for federal office calls for cutting the federal work force, slashing agency budgets, eliminating entire departments or cutting the pay or pensions of employees. These constant negative attacks affect not only federal employees, but the public we serve. Federal workers may be an easy target for politicians, but it is not fair to continue to go after a group that is already contributing a billion over the next 10 years to deficit reduction through a two-year pay freeze and another billion in retirement program changes.

Federal employees serve the public diligently every day and we do not deserve to have those in Congress continue to look to cuts in our pensions as a way to finance debt reduction or rebuild roads or bridges. There are a number of bills pending in Congress that would change our retirement formula giving us less money after a 20-, 25-, or 30-year career with the government. This is nothing more than a broken promise to every federal employee who believed that public service was a worthy calling. It discourages me and will keep talented scientists, doctors, lawyers and others from working in the government in the future. That is a legacy our country cannot afford.

Paul Kwiatkowski

President, NTEU Chapter

Orchard Park