CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — The Ontario County Police Benevolent Association (OCPBA) issued a statement Tuesday morning saying an “overwhelming majority” of the organization’s members believe Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson has created a “toxic culture,” adding that they do not have confidence in the sheriff to continue to lead the office.
This statement follows the launch of a recent investigation from the Ontario County Board of Supervisors into Henderson and the sheriff’s office following accusations of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment.
The PBA says there has been “unprecedented” turnover in the department during Henderson’s tenure. They also said that the relationship between him and county supervisors is “irreparable.”
Officials from the Board say a seven-month long internal investigation revealed poor leadership and a lack of integrity in the sheriff’s office.
“This is a law enforcement official who doesn’t think the rules apply to him,” Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt claimed.
Henderson issued a statement earlier this month saying he would not step down from office. Former Undersheriff Dave Frasca voluntarily resigned when news of the investigation broke.
“Undersheriff was very much at the heart of a lot of these complaints,” Administrator DeBolt said. “I think that the fact the Undersheriff resigned with no prompting is indicative where there’s smoke there’s fire.”
In a statement Wednesday, the PBA said: “Sheriff Henderson has refused to resign and to allow this department to heal and move forward from his failed administration. The PBA and its members can no longer remain silent.”
The statement continued: “During the tenure of Sheriff Henderson lateral transfers from our department to other agencies have occurred at an unprecedented rate, with 17 deputies leaving since 2019 – more than during the entire 28-year span of the prior administration. Our full-time road patrol is budgeted for 45 positions. There are presently only 26 Deputies in these positions, three more will be leaving in the next 30 days, and several of those that remain are actively looking for positions elsewhere.”
The PBA statement concluded with: “The Ontario County PBA conducted a membership vote and by an overwhelming majority believes that the toxic culture created by the Sheriff coupled with the findings of the independent investigation have made the relationship between him and the county administration irreparable and does not have confidence in this Sheriff to continue to lead the Office of Sheriff.”
The county’s the Public Safety Committee passed two resolutions this month giving the Investigations Committee subpoena power over the sheriff’s department to fully investigate the complaints. Also, a resolution to develop a taskforce for removing the 911 Emergency Communications Division from the sheriff to a new entity.
A statement Tuesday from the Ontario County Board of Supervisors said: “We thank the PBA for their courage to come forward.”
Officials from the sheriff’s office have not immediately returned a request for comment.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.