BATAVIA – After 49 years or, in his words, “two careers” in law enforcement, Genesee County Sheriff Gary T. Maha is ready to remove his badge and put away his service revolver.
Maha announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this year. He has been elected to seven four-year terms as sheriff, running unopposed each time.
“It’s time to relax, retire and enjoy life,” said Maha, who lives in Batavia with his wife, Susan. “We plan to stay in Genesee County, close to our daughter who is handicapped and lives in a group home nearby. We also would like to travel a bit.”
Maha, 71, began his law enforcement career as a dispatcher for the State Police in 1966, and a year later was appointed as a deputy sheriff with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.
He became a senior investigator two years later, and in 1977 was promoted to chief deputy and assigned to lead the investigative section. In January 1988, he was appointed interim sheriff. Ten months later, he was elected to his first term.
“I figured I had 20 years in at the time, so I would give it a shot (running for sheriff),” Maha said. “If I lost, I thought I could retire and find something else.”
Maha said that W. Douglas Call, sheriff at the time, wrote a letter to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo on his behalf.
“Doug Call endorsed me for the job even though he was a Democrat and I was a Republican,” Maha said. “I went to Albany and was interviewed by the governor’s people and got the appointment.”
Maha said he is proud of what has been accomplished during his tenure, specifically mentioning the county’s state-of-the-art Enhanced 911 center, joint drug task force with the City of Batavia and Village of Le Roy police departments, and collaboration with all municipal law enforcement offices in the county.
“I’ve had a tremendous staff and it’s really been a group effort,” he said. “I think we have one of the most professional agencies in the state – I run a tight ship, which you need to do – and I try to set the tone for professionalism.”
The sheriff said he hopes to get his deputy staffing “up to strength” by the end of the year, noting that four new hires are currently in field training and two more candidates will be attending the police academy.
“We’ve been shorthanded on the road patrol. That needs to be taken care of,” Maha said.
Maha has served on numerous state and national boards, most notably as the executive chairman of the New York State Sheriffs Association and vice chairman of the National Sheriffs Association of Criminal Justice Information Services and Technology Committee.
A 1972 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., Maha holds an associate degree in police science from Genesee Community College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Empire State College.
He said he will be supporting Undersheriff William A. Sheron as his replacement.
“Bill is the most qualified person for the job, having been in that position since 1996,” he said.