Bernie Tolbert, a Buffalo native and experienced law enforcement and security official, today announced his candidacy for Erie County Sheriff. In making the announcement, Tolbert spoke of the responsibilities of the job.
“The sheriff is responsible for investigating and stopping crime, keeping county roads safe, handling public emergencies, and protecting women, children and others threatened by domestic violence,” Tolbert stated. “Additionally, the sheriff is responsible for the county jails, and the holding center. Each of these important jobs is faltering under current leadership and Erie County deserves the best possible sheriff in charge of addressing them. We need someone who understands our community’s needs. Someone with extensive law enforcement credentials and experience. Someone with fresh ideas to improve the operations of the Sheriff’s Department and overcome tough new challenges to public safety. Equally important, we need someone who won’t play politics with the sheriff’s badge.”
Tolbert’s 35-year law enforcement and security career includes leading the FBI’s Buffalo Division where he supervised all foreign counterintelligence, counterterrorism and civil rights investigations throughout the 17 counties of Western New York, including Erie. Tolbert’s experience provides him with the vision and leadership skills to clean up the holding center that has been beset by mismanagement and unexplained deaths, halt the alarming rise in street violence and attack the opioid epidemic destroying families and robbing lives in urban and rural communities.
“I want to protect and extend Buffalo’s renaissance across the entire county, from Grand Island to Sardinia and from Lackawanna to Lancaster. When elected I will partner with law enforcement, community leaders and private citizens across all neighborhood and political boundaries to make our county safer.”
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ABOUT BERNIE TOLBERT: Bernie Tolbert is a Buffalo native and attended Elementary Schools 31, 6 and 76. After graduation from Lafayette High School he attended the State University of New York at Buffalo where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1971 and a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1973.
In January 1980, Bernie began duty as a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After graduating from the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Bernie served for two decades in commended supervisory roles in Buffalo, New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, retiring as the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Buffalo Division. Following security management roles for the Coca-Cola Company and HSBC Bank, in 2002 Bernie was appointed Vice President in charge of Security of the National Basketball Association and later became Senior Vice President of NBA Security, a title he held until his retirement in 2010.
Bernie has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Black Achievers in Industry Award (twice), the Heroes of Public Housing Award, the Ebony and Ivory Award and the More Than a Month (Black History) Award presented by HBO in Philadelphia. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the Men of Integrity Awards Dinner in Buffalo.
In June of 2001, Bernie was the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Achievement, which is presented to the top Senior Executives in U.S. Government Agencies. In 1988, Bernie was elected to the SUNY at Buffalo Athletic Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Lafayette High School Wall of Fame in honor of his achievements and contributions to the Buffalo and Western New York Community.
Bernie has been active in WNY community organizations for many years including an association that spans more than 50 years with Cradle Beach. He has served on a number of local community boards, including the United Way, Western New York Public Broadcasting, Erie County Youth Board, University of Buffalo Alumni Association, Medaille College, The Wisteria Initiative, The Olmstead Conservancy, The 100 Club of Buffalo and Western New York and the Ellicott District Coalition of Agencies. He is currently on the Board of Directors for The National Federation for Just Communities, Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, The Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program and is a Trustee of the Statler Foundation. Bernie is the father of three adult children, all living in Buffalo, where he and his wife also reside.