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Wellsville grapples with the impact of “bail reform” on Main Street USA

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Village Mayor Randy Shayler wants to find a local solution

Chief of Police Tim O’Grady answers questions about village vagrancy

By Andrew Harris

The Wellsville Village Police Department reported the following arrest from early this week:

Monday October 3, 2022

Wellsville Police arrested Daniel E. Fronczak, age 46, of Bolivar, charging him with Disorderly Conduct. The charge stems from an incident that took on South Broad Street on September 12th. Fronczak was issued an appearance ticket and released. Fronczak is due to appear in Wellsville Village Court on October 25th at 4:30 pm.

Daniel has been arrested before, dozens of times, and for many different crimes. Dan clearly has serious drug and alcohol addiction, rendering him homeless. Prior to “bail reform,” Dan would get drunk and high until he was arrested. He would go to jail, which was effectively rehab for Dan. When released, he would come out sober, wearing a nice set of new clothes. Depending on when he relapsed, Dan would go back to jail and get more tough love. In jail he had access to addiction services, mental health services, and healthcare. The cycle is always sad to watch, but jail is often the best place for someone who insists on drinking, drugging, and breaking the law.

Winter is coming, call Shea’s before the snow flies

Today, three days after Dan’s most recent arrest, you will likely find him incoherent on the streets of downtown Wellsville. He has parasites, fight wounds, and has probably taken some sort of street drug and downed the cheapest dose of alcohol available. Dan isn’t welcome in many places because of his behavior, foul odor, and state of intoxication. If I had to guess, Dan is collapsed on a bench, front stoop, or in the now infamous “pocket-park” that the property owner on East State Street has provided for the village vagrants.

Dan, barely standing, at one of his preferred Main Street historical sites

Around 11am, Dan probably isn’t unconscious, yet. He will heckle, harass, beg, and threaten anyone who he can focus on, often school age kids. It is a wonder that he has not been hit by a car or killed by some of the other vagrants of the village. Dan is regularly also a victim of violent crime, assaulted for his behavior and trespass.

In one of my regular calls with Mayor Randy Shayler it was clear that the village government is ready to act. When I asked the Mayor how long we can let Dan continue to terrorize himself and others, he didn’t mince words:

“We are failing this guy as a village, a community, and as humans. This guy, and others, are clearly not getting the help from society that they need. We have to do better.”

Shayler reports that he will be addressing this issue head on at the upcoming village board meeting and making a statement in the near future.

Village of Wellsville Chief of Police Timothy O’Grady and the officers in the department have been more impacted by Dan and other vagrants than anyone. Besides having to deal with Dan on a daily basis, when police arrest him, they must release him with an appearance ticket that he won’t acknowledge. After this latests arrest of Dan, we asked O’Grady a few questions:

WS: The recent arrest of Dan F has put a spotlight on the problem he is causing for the village.  Why can’t the man be institutionalized? 

Chief: This would be a question for Allegany Co. Mental Health or Clarity alcohol rehab.    

WS: Does he have any kin? 

Chief: He is from the Bolivar area but frequents greater Wellsville, Olean, Cuba areas.  I believe he has children and family in Bolivar.

WS: What peril exists should Justice Thompson(or any justice) say ‘enough is enough,’  I’m not releasing him back on the streets ?

Chief: Justice’s hands are tied as well. Eventually he may rack up enough charges to get him sentenced to jail for a few months but until then…  If the public gets involved and signs complaints against him when he is being a problem we can start the “racking up charges” process.   That’s what happened in his last arrest.  It was based a citizen complaint.

WS: While I think everyone understands how bail reform ties WPD hands, what isn’t clear is why someone who is clearly a danger to himself and others can’t be helped, or at least isolated.

Chief: This would be a question for Allegany Co. Mental Health or Clarity alcohol rehab

As the mayor and the village board are crafting a response to this unfortunate situation, the best solution the community has is to follow the Chief’s advice: If you see Dan, or another vagrant in Wellsville committing a crime, harassing young children, or trespassing on private property, call the Wellsville Police Department.

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