Sheriff Barry Virts approaches 40 years in law enforcement

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts has been involved with law enforcement since he was a child. His father was a Judge in the Town of Rose, and he fondly recalls him holding court in the foyer of the family homestead. It’s clear that his love and passion for reaching the community was instilled in him at a young age, and he has held on to it throughout his career in law enforcement.This June he will celebrate his 40th year in law enforcement, since he first was hired as a Correction Officer in Wayne County on his 21st birthday. He has come a long way since then, serving Wayne County for the duration of that period — eventually being elected the Sheriff of Wayne County in 2009.Sheriff Barry Virts has a simple philosophy:Community outreach and a team mentality are key to Wayne County’s success.Whether it’s a training program for his officers, or an event that his team has been invited to — “We’ll make time for it,” he said. There’s a sense of pride and appreciation for the opportunity he has had to serve Wayne County for as long as he has. Virts talked about how much he enjoys being out in the community, talking with people, understanding the things that impact those he serves, and helping those in need no matter their background.The heroin epidemic is undoubtedly significant in terms of what it has meant to his tenure at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. The faces have changed and the problems have accelerated, but that doesn’t change their job. According to Virts, it comes down to being accountable, protecting his staff from the physical harm that they could potentially be exposed to with more drugs on the street, and evaluating the best practices.Like many in the law enforcement community, he is a huge supporter of body cameras — but the expense to actually fund the storage of data files is something that needs to be addressed before it can go completely mainstream.Funding is a challenge every year. Whether it’s scrambling to fund a surprise expense, or dealing with state cuts, which recently hit his office hard. In his monthly report released Thursday, he spoke to the challenges of dealing with a reduction of funding that since he took over in 2010 has meant a loss of tens of thousands of dollars. Funding that is crucial given their border to Lake Ontario.The landscape might have changed in the world of policing, but Sheriff Barry Virts does right by Wayne County residents and has grown with the changes. It positions his office and the community well as his team continues to work tirelessly to make Wayne County, the safest in the Finger Lakes.Check out the full-interview on the latest episode of Inside the FLX with Josh Durso.

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