Retiring Montgomery County Sheriff honored for 39 years of service

Montgomery County Road Patrol Law Enforcement Division was recognized at the Legislature’s regular meeting Tuesday. From the left is Chairman Robert Headwell, sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer Heather Harder, sheriff’s deputy Burt Wilson, Undersheriff Roberth Thomas, Sheriff Michael Amato and District 8 Legislator Joseph Isabel. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

FONDA — At the Montgomery County Legislative regular meeting held on Tuesday, county jail employees and the county road patrol law enforcement division were each recognized and given proclamations for their work and dedication to the county.

Also honored at the meeting was Sheriff Michael Amato, who after 39 years of service in the sheriff’s office is retiring.

Amato is a graduate of Fonda-Fultonville Central School District and went on to attend the FBI Institute and the National Institute of Corrections. He began his career serving the county as a road patrolman and correction officer, then becoming an investigator in 1992. In 1997 he was appointed as sheriff by former gov. George Pataki. He won his first election as sheriff in 1998.

In his time as sheriff, some of Amato’s accomplishments include modernizing the sheriff’s office, issuing new weapons, updating most of the safety equipment, making it so cell phone calls can be made to the office. Amato has seen the office evolve from typewriters with carbon paper to computers.

“You’re going to be remembered as the sheriff who is not afraid to embrace new technology,” said District 8 Legislator Joseph Isabel.

Amato said the one thing he always wanted to see before retiring was satellite pictures in the dispatch center, so dispatchers could know what is happening on the streets when they get calls.

“It’s been a long time, 39 years. I never anticipated being here that long,” Amato said. “There’s been some rough times and some real good times.”

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said he has always respected Amato.

“Since I’ve been here, you’ve treated me with nothing but respect, you’ve always told it to be straight and I appreciate that very much,” Ossenfort said. “I hope as you go on when you look back, you know I treated you with the respect that I feel you deserve as well. It’s been a great relationship and one that I certainly will never forget.”

Amato also thanked his wife, Carol who also works at the sheriff’s office as the sheriff secretary.

“She’s very important to me,” Amato said. “When we work together, we’re a team. It really helped the sheriff’s office run better.”

District 5 Legislator Daniel Wilson read the proclamation for the county jail employees who were being recognized.

“The staff of montgomery county jail is dedicated, driven and able to communicate, deescalate situations while maintaining a professional focus,” Wilson stated. “These employees work within a facility which could be described as a city within itself and are responsible for monitoring anywhere between 110-179 inmates.”

Approximately 77 employees work in montgomery county jail consisting of correction supervisors, correction officers, medical and kitchen staff as well as a corrections training supervisor.

The jail employees oversee inmates with their day-to-day activities such as schooling, medical, meals, counseling opportunities, trips to court dates and other appointments and visitations.

Nine employees in particular were commended for their teamwork, their years of service and their commitment to the Montgomery County Jail. Those employees are: Administrator Robert Barbuti, Correction Officer Terry Carter, Correction Officer Theresa Saltsman, Correction Officer Peter Vertucci, Corrections Training Coordinator Marina Wemple, Gina Yesse of medical staff and Stephanie Crewell of the jail’s kitchen staff.

“The fact that these employees maintain a positive attitude in an atmosphere that is filled with strife and conflict truly demonstrates their discipline and excellent character,” Wilson said.

Road patrol: Isabel read the proclamations for the road patrol law enforcement division. The employees being honored were sheriff’s deputy and Fonda-Fultonville School Resource Officer Heather Harder, Lt. Burt Wilson and Undersheriff Robert Thomas.

“Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol Law Enforcement Division is known for their dedication, hard work they put into the community and to the residents of the community,” Isabel stated.

Just recently, the sheriff’s office achieved accreditation through the New York State Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation program, which is administered under the criminal division of criminal justice. Out of the 62 sheriff’s offices in the state, only 24 have received this accreditation.

“We appreciate the work you do,” Isabel said.

“I want to thank the corrections staff for being here tonight,” Amato said. “We are a big family and there’s another whole group back at the jail who also deserve what has been presented to my staff tonight. Sometimes you think you’re not important, that you don’t matter and some staff might think they don’t matter, but they are very important to me and they’re very important to the county.”

By Josh Bovee

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