CAYUGA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — During and after the hunt for Christopher Block, local law enforcement agencies expressed frustration about how the search was handled, saying they were left out of the loop by the State Department of Corrections.
The Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck called the handling “inexcusable.” He vented his frustrations on Facebook Thursday night.
Schenck and Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway are both upset, saying they, and the people they serve, were left out of the loop and were not updated by the Department of Corrections on the search for Christopher Block.
In an interview with NewsChannel 9, Schenck says, “Anything could have happened. He was obviously a very dangerous individual and I think the public should have been alerted immediately and that is a large part of my frustration yesterday was trying to get additional information not only for our local law enforcement agency, but also to be released to the public. I think the public should have been notified immediately when that happened and for whatever reason, a decision was made not to do that.”
Schenck continues, “It puts us in the position where we are not providing the best service we can to the public that we serve. I mean, this is certainly a public safety issue and that is why I am making some noise about this. We need to do better here and if any agency at the state, local or federal level isn’t doing their job, I would hope other people would call them out on that. We can always do better.”
The Department of Corrections fired back on Friday at Schenck’s claims:
DOCCS immediately notified its federal, state and local law enforcement partners as soon as Mr. Block’s GPS monitor was removed and responded immediately to the GPS cut location with personnel and canine resources from its partner agencies. DOCCS then worked around the clock with those partners to locate and apprehend Block. As part of the initial search strategy immediately following the GPS cut, notice to the public was limited so it did not cause panic or unduly compromise the early stages of the search and force the absconder to go deeper into hiding. Contrary to reported information and inaccurate public statements and tweets by certain local officials, all law enforcement agencies were duly notified via the National Crime Information Center, APB/BOLO, as well as through personal notification from DOCCS staff. Also contrary to the local officials’ tweets and statements, these local agencies actually participated in the search and investigation with DOCCS and NYSP, deploying personnel, canine, and a helicopter within two hours of the cut. Further, DOCCS and NYSP never called off the search and staffed intense search efforts for 36 hours straight with multi-man teams operating throughout Onondaga and Cayuga counties, with a manned 24 tip line and command post in Syracuse, until Block was captured at 830 am on July 12, 2019. Local officials called off their contributions to the search as their personnel shifts ended on July 10 and 11, 2019. However, DOCCS and NYSP continued efforts unabated, ultimately culminating with Block’s capture, with the significant assistance of NYS DEC.Statement from DOCCS Spokesperson Thomas Mailey
Schenck says he hopes to partner with the New York State Department of Corrections to improve communication.
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