History of the Livingston County Sheriff's Office
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LIVINGSTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
On February 23, 1821 the County of Livingston was formed and in turn was the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office. Gideon T. Jenkins, from Leicester, was honored to become the first Sheriff of Livingston County, his appointment being made on February 26, 1821. In 1822, a change in the state constitution required Sheriffs to be elected, but they were not allowed to succeed themselves and were only allowed to hold office for one term. In 1938, another change in the state constitution allowed Sheriffs to be elected for more than one term. There have been 50 Sheriffs to serve the County of Livingston to date, with Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty currently serving in the position since 2014.
The headquarters of the Sheriff’s Office is located in Geneseo, NY. Geneseo was named the county seat upon the creation of Livingston County. In 1821, the Wadsworth family donated the property where the Sheriff’s office, courthouse and jail are located.
The first Courthouse was built in 1823. While the courthouse was being constructed, court sessions were held in a brick building on Center St. where the current museum is located. The courthouse has seen its share of renovations since then. The current center section of the courthouse was constructed in 1886, the original section from 1823 was razed and replaced by the current front section in 1898, and the current rear section was constructed in 1957. In the early 1990’s there was a complete renovation done on the courthouse to accommodate the New York State court system.
The original jail was also built in 1823 and was replaced by a brick jail in 1889, parts of which are still in use today. The original jail was replaced only after five prisoners escaped by digging their way out of the foundation of the original jail. The jail has also seen its share of renovations. In 1964, the Board of Supervisors approved an $119,000 addition to the jail some of which was due to fire damage. This addition also created an area for three female cells as well as the Civil Defense headquarters. Then in 1983, another jail addition was completed. This new addition housed both maximum and minimum-security prisoners. It also created a new recreation room, kitchen, and intake garage. In 2010, a $27 million jail expansion took place. This endeavor created a 55,000 square foot facility that would house 134 inmates, this along with the renovations of the existing jail created enough beds for 209 inmates. This expansion also updated many areas of technology including surveillance cameras and a duress system for the protection of the jail staff.
D. Sayre Beam, who was the 43rd Sheriff of Livingston County and served from 1937 until 1943 is credited for implementing Livingston County’s first patrol car and also the first two way radio communications system. Sheriff Beam also introduced the first training school for Deputies and Police Officers, which included instructors from the FBI and Buffalo Police Department.
Since its inception, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office has developed into a full-service law enforcement agency employing 107 full time and 64 part time sworn police and correction officers and 27 full time and 17 part time civilian employees. The Sheriff’s Office provides Road Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Court Security, Civil Process, Campus Security at Murray Hill, and operates the Livingston County Jail. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office also has a Communications Bureau that is comprised of Sheriff’s Office Communications (administration contacts, records division contacts, calls for requests for Deputies etc), as well as the Livingston County 911 Center (E-911) dispatching all Police, EMS and Fire Services in the 17 towns and 9 villages that make up Livingston County.
Sheriff John M. York, who was the 49th Sheriff of Livingston County and served as Sheriff from 1989-2013 is credited with bringing full accreditation to the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office was also the first Sheriff’s Office in the state to be accredited in every division possible. Police Services in 1997, Corrections in 1997, Civil in 1998, Communications in 2003, and Court Security in 2005.
Under Sheriff Dougherty’s leadership the Sheriff’s Office is very proactive and progressive in finding new ways and technology to fight crime and focuses on Community Oriented Policing to collaborate with the residents we partner with to make Livingston County a safer county. Although the Sheriff’s Office has changed with the growing needs and challenges of keeping the county as safe as possible, the core values and mission has remained steadfast for nearly 200 years.