Niagara Gazette

July 6, 2013

COPS NOTEBOOK: Happy campers and child advocates

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Column by Rick Pfeiffer —

Almost two dozen Niagara County kids have had the chance to attend summer camp this year, thanks to Sheriff Jim Voutour and the New York State Sheriff’s Association.

Eleven of the children attended the Sheriff’s Association Institute’s 2013 Summer Camp the week of June 24 and the remainder are there this week. The camp is located near Penn Yan in Yates County and is supported by the annual dues and generous contributions of honorary members of the Sheriff’s Association.

In its 37th year of operation, the camp will be home for a week to over 900 kids from across New York before the summer is over. 

For the fifth consecutive year, the local kids will be accompanied at the camp by Niagara County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Joseph Flager. In addition to Flager, Corey and Tyler Mack, the sons of Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Kevin Mack and Niagara County Victim Advocate Kristin Mack, have volunteered to serve as counselors at the camp this year.

During their week-long stay, the children attending the camp will participate in activities such as archery, sailing, boating, hiking and talent shows. They will also have the chance to experience technical and safety demonstrations by sheriff’s deputies that include scuba diving, K-9 handling and bicycle and boating safety.

“The campers get an insider’s look at the world of law enforcement,” Voutour said. “By working with and learning from the sheriffs and deputy sheriffs at the camp, the kids develop a deeper respect for and understanding of the men and women who enforce our laws.”

It’s an example of how local law enforcement gives back to its community in ways you might not know about, but which really impact our children. Voutour, the deputies and volunteers deserve a big THANK YOU.


Child Advocacy Center honors

They do the kind of work most people would recoil from and they are often the last hope for abused children.

That’s why it’s so important to recognize for the efforts of the caseworkers and investigators attached to the Niagara County Child Abuse Intervention Project. 

On June 26, the Child Advocacy Center honored five members of the project for their hard work and dedication.

The honorees were Niagara County Department of Social Services senior caseworker Debbie Stevenson, Lockport Police Det. Travis Mapes, family services advocate Kara Sciarrino, crime victim specialist Martha LaCorte and YWCA of Niagara Vice President Mary Brennan-Taylor.

In speaking of the work these folks do, CAC Executive Director Laura Kelemen said, “(They) work day in and day out with victims of abuse and their families. They are compassionate, dedicated and determined to prevent and treat child abuse and to seek justice and healing for the victims and families they serve.”

The Child Abuse Intervention Project is a joint effort of local law enforcement, Child Protective Services, the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office, medical and mental health professionals and the Child Advocacy Center. The work performed by the project is indescribably important for abused children and we all owe the folks who work on it our respect and gratitude for a job incredibly well done.