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Dual roles in Erie County Sheriff’s Office leaves key figure sued

Alan N. Rozansky – is he a senior narcotics detective at the Erie County Sheriff’s Office or the “chief of narcotics,” which is a supervisory job?

Right now, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and his top echelon call Rozansky a chief. But according to Rozansky’s payroll title, he’s a senior detective.

For Rozansky, 64, it’s the best of both worlds. He’s paid more than other unionized detectives. And unlike higher-ranking but non-union chiefs, he can collect as much overtime as he always did.

The union that represents Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies and detectives argues, among other things, that the situation treats other detectives unfairly and allows Rozansky to enjoy the pay and status of a supervisor while retaining his union protection.

After failing to fully resolve the matter through the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, the Erie County Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association filed a lawsuit against the sheriff and one of its dues-paying union members, Senior Detective/Chief Rozansky.

The union wants Howard to move Rozansky back to his previous pay grade and dispense with the title of chief, unless the sheriff creates the management job in the way that county rules and state civil service law require.

The PBA acknowledges in its legal complaint that it is suing one of its own members. But the union says Rozansky’s interests are “adverse” to those of the PBA.

Rozansky, a former PBA president, responded by sending the union a letter saying that it should pay for the lawyer he might need. Meanwhile, he told The Buffalo News that he holds both titles.

“My in-house title is narcotics chief,” Rozansky said. “My county title is senior detective.”

Rozansky, who was hired in 1971, is one of Howard’s most visible detectives. He’s involved in the department’s large-scale, newsmaking drug busts. He was a fixture on the multi-agency team that in 2007 arrested serial rapist and killer Altemio C. Sanchez for a string of violent crimes that had led to the wrongful conviction of the innocent Anthony J. Capozzi.

Rozansky sometimes appears before the County Legislature on matters concerning the Sheriff’s Office. Like other high-level employees, he gives to Howard’s campaign fund. When he presided over the PBA, the union endorsed Howard during his contentious 2009 re-election campaign against John A. Glascott.

Howard assigned the title of chief to Rozansky in February 2015, according to the lawsuit. The act moved him up one pay grade, to a base salary of around $97,000 last year and $99,000 this year.

That’s an improvement of about $13,000, compared with the base pay of other senior detectives, though it was less than provided the department’s other chiefs.

With overtime and other benefits, Rozansky eclipsed other chiefs as he made about $132,000 in 2015, according to records on the statewide website SeeThroughNY. The new title, though, hasn’t changed Rozansky’s income all that much. He made about $132,000 in 2014, as well, the records show.

While Rozansky declined to answer most questions about the matter because it’s in court, he said he’s justified in expecting the PBA to provide him with a lawyer should he need one in addition to representation by the county attorney.

“If I’m a member in good standing, and their lawyer is suing me, I think there is a conflict,” he said.

The union’s lawyer, Paul D. Weiss, said Rozansky should take his request to the sheriff or to county government, not the PBA.

The PBA would represent members who face lawsuits as they act “in furtherance” of the union’s interests, Weiss said.

“By accepting this unilateral upgrade to chief,” Weiss said, “he is actually acting against the union.”