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Dogged detective always gets his guy

Senior Detective Alan Rozansky has investigated many narcotics cases during his 41 years with the Erie County Sheriff's Office. Born and raised in North Buffalo, he attended Bennett High School and graduated from the University at Buffalo, where as a student he worked undercover making drug buys.

Rozansky, who just turned 60, volunteers with the Mel Ott Little League and is dedicated to his wife and two daughters. But it's law enforcement that ignites this Columbo kind of cop. Rozansky is pushing hard for new pawn shop regulations. He is a member of the county Child Abduction Response Team.

After cracking hundreds of crime cases, Rozansky wants his children to remember one in particular.

>People Talk: What distinguishes the Bike Path Killer case?

Alan Rozansky: How many policemen have had the opportunity to not only arrest the bad guy, but in the course of the investigation free a guy who was in jail for 22 years? We've had big drug cases, but the one thing I can tell my kids that they'll always remember: It's not about the arrest, it's about seeing the right thing done.

>PT: What's the latest on Altemio Sanchez?

AR: He's in Clinton [Correctional Facility], and will obviously never ever confess to everything he did. Unless you have him through DNA evidence, he will not confess. I honestly believe they will find he was not dormant for the last 12 years [before his arrest five years ago]. That's my opinion.

>PT: Describe him.

AR: He's a conniving, sadistic individual -- a monster. Here's a guy who sat in wait for his victims, came up behind them, fought with them and raped them. He worked his life -- his work schedule and his wife -- around his killings.

>PT: What makes you a good detective?

AR: I'm dogged. I will never ever give up, whatever it is. I will assemble a team and get the guy. The way I am cost the family. I was always working. I never take vacation. I had one sick day in 30 years.

>PT: Why do you work narcotics?

AR: Seventy-five percent of all crimes are drug-related. I love the chase. I also like to wear jeans. When I have to put a tie on to testify, I am uncomfortable. I hate getting dressed up. From '71 to '77, I worked undercover making buys at UB. I was a full-time student working subversive activities. I graduated with a sociology degree.

>PT: What's the latest drug to arrive on the scene??

AR: Tons of hydrocodones -- pain killers -- but the doc from Central Police Services just told me the most they get in for lab analysis is marijuana.

>PT: Do you think marijuana should be legalized?

AR: Absolutely not. It's a controlled substance. They can talk about this medical marijuana? It's still illegal. First off, I don't drink or smoke. I'm so against the legalization of anything. We've legalized Oxycontin, Loritab -- all these are prescription. It's off the charts right now with all the arrests.

>PT: What's the marijuana horticulture scene like?

AR: Most of it is coming from Canada or out West. You see local grow operations, but not on the scale you see coming from out West.

I remember years ago we got a case on Grand Island where a 60-year-old lady drove from the West in a Lincoln Continental dropping off her product. She dropped off 200 pounds here. Her records led to the indictments of many people. What they were doing was burying the money in the ground stuffed in PVC pipe out in Allegany County. It seems like the biggest cases we get moneywise are the marijuana cases.

>PT: Do you receive many calls on the Crime Stoppers tipline?

AR: A guy asking for Eduardo calls the tip line -- this made national news -- and wants to buy dope. He must have misdialed. As it turned out, I know this kid's family from Williamsville. He was a heroin addict. He agrees to meet me at Main and Transit. We grab him. Here's a guy so desperate for drugs that he calls a tipline thinking he's calling his drug source.

>PT: You're still having fun on the job.

AR: I am. It's the technological advances we have now, but I can't describe them. When the magician is coming to town, does he tell you his tricks? It affects our effectiveness.

>PT: What's your most important tool?

AR: My phone. I'm a fanatic about Apple products. I've got stock in Apple. I bought it at $43. It's now at $600.

>PT: Who is your role model?

AR: Kevin Caffery [captain of the Erie County Sheriff's Aviation Unit]. He's like my brother. He's a hero, all the things he's done. I was driving to Lackawanna with him one day, and we get flagged down by a mother who said her baby fell in a sewage ditch. Kevin suits up and goes into the sewage. He is what you would call the epitome of a hero.

>PT: What do you do for fun?

AR: I used to play racquetball constantly, and then I hurt my knee so I quit. I had my meniscus tear fixed, but now I'm afraid of aggravating the other one. I'm president of Mel Ott Little League in Amherst. I'm president of the Sheriffs PBA. I'm a chocolate fanatic. I'm boring, I know.