By Rick Pfeiffer
He is one of the most low key people I know in law enforcement.
Every day, Tom Beatty flies below the radar at the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.
Funny thing is, I’m not sure how that office would operate without him. And neither is Sheriff Jim Voutour.
“He knows more about the office than anyone else I know,” Voutour said with a chuckle the other day. “He really is the go-to guy if you don’t know the answer to a question about how something gets done.”
While his work and dedication to his job have been recognized before, Beatty has now garnered the highest honor bestowed by the New York State Sheriff’s Association. The chief deputy for administration, on the recommendation of Voutour, received the Carl Draxler Award at a ceremony earlier this month.
The award is named in memory of the late sheriff of Chemung County and recognizes a member of a sheriff’s office “whose exceptional career achievements and conscientious devotion to duty have demonstrated a spirit of public service.”
I could not have described Tom any better than that. He is the gold standard of what a public servant should be.
“It’s the most prestigious award (the Sheriff’s Association) gives out,” Voutour said. “(Tom) has garnered many individual honors, but his motivation throughout his 36 years on the job has been to contribute to the wellbeing of his community. The condition of law enforcement in Niagara County and the quality of life for the people of Niagara County have been enhanced because of his professional abilities and personal qualities.”
Voutour noted that Beatty “has never been interested in personal acclaim.” So much so, that when reporters came to the sheriff’s office headquarters to talk to Voutour about the Draxler Award, Tom passed on joining the conversation.
That was no surprise. It’s never about Tom, but it’s always about the sheriff’s office of the men and women under his command.
The deflecting the glory is always the truest sign of a great leader.
Beatty joined the office in 1978, after he earned an Associate in Science degree in criminal justice from Niagara County Community College. He graduated from the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, which he would later lead, In 1979 and got a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Niagara University while working his way through the ranks of the sheriff’s office.
I first met Tom when he was at the academy. He used me to teach young recruits and seasoned supervisors alike how to deal with the news media.
Tom believed I had valuable knowledge to share with members of law enforcement. I relished the opportunity to interact with them.
Communication is, after all, a two-way street. I was always happy to hear from Tom and help him out.
Beatty is also Voutour’s liaison to the Niagara County Legislature. To me, that sounds like a thankless job.
Not to Tom. He has succeeded in representing the sheriff’s office interests like no one else.
Oh, and have I mentioned Beatty’s ability to track down cash, like a bloodhound, and bring it back to Niagara County.
Grants that Beatty has secured have helped to pay for the sheriff’s office new state-of-the-art mobile command post.
County Legislator David Godfrey, who chairs that body’s public safety committee, estimates that Beatty’s work has brought $10 million in grant money into Niagara County.
“The legislature is mighty proud of Tom,” Godfrey said.
In addition to the Draxler Award, Beatty has also received the Sheriff’s Distinguished Service Award, the Sheriff’s Office Craig C. Harmon Award for “his commitment to overall excellence to duty, his community, co-workers and family.”
He was the first recipient of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services John Kimball O’Neill Certificate of Achievement for “dedication and professionalism.” Beatty also led the successful reaccreditation of the sheriff’s office by the state.
The sheriff also told me that Tom was responsible for convincing him to leave the Jamestown Police Department and return home to Niagara County.
While Beatty hasn’t shown any indication that he might step away anytime soon, Voutour said the word “retirement” did come up in a conversation in the last year.
“I told him to forget it,’ Voutour said. “I said I wouldn’t sign the (retirement) papers.”
That’s some of the best news I’ve heard in awhile. Selfishly, I don’t want Tom to leave either.