ONTARIO COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson resigned Wednesday. The resignation went into effect immediately.
The Ontario County Board of Supervisors called for Henderson’s resignation in early September, saying the results of an investigation sparked by a number of complaints to an anonymous tip line were “extremely concerning and highlight the poor leadership, lack of integrity and low employee morale within the [sheriff’s] office.”
Officials say those anonymous complaints accused Henderson and other higher-ups of sexually harassing employees of the sheriff’s office, creating a toxic work environment. Henderson was also accused of seeking to retaliate against the complainants.
“There had been an anonymous complaint regarding a sexual harassment investigation into the sheriff’s office and he had demanded the HR (Human Resource) Department to hear the audio recording of the anonymous complaint, so that he could identify the complainant, go after them, and nail them to the wall,” Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt said.
The Ontario County Police Benevolent Association (OCPBA) issued a statement September 21, saying an “overwhelming majority” of the organization’s members believed Henderson created a “toxic culture.” They said they did not have confidence in the sheriff to continue to lead the office.
Henderson previously said he would not resign. As a result, the Ontario County Public Safety Committee passed two resolutions giving an investigations committee subpoena power to pursue the matter. The county also set out to develop a task force which would remove the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Division from the purview of the sheriff’s department.
Statement from Henderson’s attorney
Representatives of the Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson and Ontario County recently met and determined that it is in the best interest of the Sheriff, his family, and the employees of Ontario County that the Sheriff resign his office effective immediately. Neither the Sheriff nor the County have any additional statement regarding the Sheriff’s resignation.Eugene Welch, Esq. — Attorney for Kevin Henderson
Statement from Ontario County Police Benevolent Association
The Ontario County Police Benevolent Association is pleased by Kevin Henderson’s decision to resign as Sheriff. The members of the OCPBA voiced their opinion regarding this Sheriff’s administration and are now looking forward to the opportunity to heal and move on. The members of the OCPBA will continue to provide professional police services to the residents of Ontario County as they have through this entire process, and appreciate the support that they continually receive from the community that they serveOntario County Police Benevolent Association
Statement from Ontario County Chief Deputy John Falbo
The Ontario County Sheriff’s Office has gone through a significant change in the past 24 hours, but it has been a period of several weeks in which this Office has been dealing with uncertainties and no knowledge of what the immediate future would look like for the Office. However, during these difficult times, the men and women in all Divisions of OCSO, 911, Road Patrol and Corrections, have continued to work tirelessly in their efforts to keep providing the citizens of Ontario County with the best possible public service. They have been and will continue to ensure the phones are being answered, the calls are beings serviced, the laws are being enforced, crimes are being investigated, our courts are secured, and the incarcerated individuals are provided the utmost care and respect while in our custody. This will not change.
The men and women who put on the uniforms each day and do the job that only a small percentage of our population are willing to do are the backbone of this agency and that will be the case no matter who sits behind the desk of the Sheriff. The remaining Administration of this office is dedicated to supporting our backbone employees and first-line Supervisors in this time of healing to ensure the continuation of quality and professional service to the public. It is our commitment to now be able to work with the employees to fulfill their needs and mend the broken relationships with the County Administration, Board of Supervisors, District Attorney’s Office and other County Agencies so that we all can work together in making OCSO a place people want to come and work again, which in turn will only improve the quality of public service and safety provided.
OCSO Administration and Union Leadership will maintain communication with County Leadership as the process of selecting an Interim Sheriff takes place to ensure the best fit for this office, the support of the employees is garnered, and a smooth transition transpires. As this occurs, we will continue to work closely with County Leadership to then find a solution in mitigating the significant loss of personnel we have seen over the past three years with a proper retention and recruitment plan.
In the meantime, we ask the public to allow OCSO to heal and move forward. The support from this community for OCSO has always been top notch and greatly appreciated by members of this Office. Please put aside feelings regarding the circumstances behind this situation and think of the employees first and foremost. We ask for the continued support of our men and women who have held the line during very trying times but still strap on their boots and go to work every day to serve you to the best of their ability.Ontario County Chief Deputy John Falbo
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.