With Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard not expected to seek reelection in 2021, candidates are beginning to proclaim their intention to replace him, including a long-time Amherst police officer.
Det. Lt. Ted DiNoto announced his candidacy for Erie County sheriff in a short Facebook video Wednesday intended to test the waters.
"I believe in the Constitution. I will never infringe on your constitutional rights," he said. "I believe in free speech. I believe in the right to peaceful protest. I believe in the right to bear arms. I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe that as sheriff of Erie County, it's my responsibility to enforce laws fairly and firmly."
DiNoto is a 29-year veteran of the Amherst Police Department and currently commander of its Narcotics Unit. According to his LinkedIn profile, he joined Amherst PD after attending Erie Community College for Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
His message was brief and to the point. DiNoto said he has spoken with the Republican Party and reached out to other parties, but Wednesday was reaching out to the public.
"I want to hear from you. I've always had an open-door policy with my subordinates and the people I've worked with, and that's how I plan on being the sheriff. I'm gonna have an open-door policy. I wanna hear your voice because your voice matters," DiNoto said. "I wanna hear from civilians, I wanna hear from deputies and I wanna hear from police officers and politicians, everyone in Erie County, because that's how I'm gonna be able to do the best job I can for you as Erie County Sheriff."
You may remember that Dr. James Corasanti surrendered to DiNoto in 2011. Corasanti was charged in the hit-and-run death of Alix Rice, 18, who was killed while riding her longboard home from work along Heim Road.
DiNoto said he smelled alcohol on the doctor's breath and that he appeared glassy-eyed. Corasanti served eight months in jail for a DWI, but was acquitted of manslaughter. There is now a skate park named in Rice's honor.
DiNoto and his wife, JoAnn, have a lot in common. The Amherst Bee profiled JoAnn DiNoto in February, when she retired as a detective lieutenant in the Amherst PD.
She has more than 30 years experience as a law enforcement officer herself, nearly all in Amherst. In 1995, she became the first female in the department to reach the rank of lieutenant. She was assigned to the Narcotics Unit in 2010 and has also taught defensive tactics at Erie Community College's Law Enforcement Police Training Academy.
DiNoto’s announcement came shortly after another candidate, a self-described “law enforcement outsider,” announced his candidacy for sheriff. Steve Felano, founder of Second Amendment group 2ANYS who has protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 shutdown orders, is promising to not enforce the state’s COVID restrictions and gun control laws.