LITTLE VALLEY - Acknowledging an upcoming retirement and a spike in the number of pistol permit applications, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office is hiring a part-time clerk.
The appointment was approved by the Cattaraugus County Legislature during their February monthly voting session. Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb said the hire by and large is to help his office train and eventually replace an outgoing clerk.
The sheriff said passage of New York state's SAFE Act also has caused a rise in the number of pistol permit applications, which the Sheriff's Office solely handles.
"Certainly we are much busier," Whitcomb said. "But what's really going on is that we have one clerk who has been here a long time. She's going to be leaving in a couple of years.
"There is so much to learn here, and we don't want to get stuck behind the eight-ball when she leaves. We do want to have someone ready to go."
Whitcomb said appointments for the hire are being accepted into next month; the position at first will help with a backlog of pistol permit applications, which the sheriff said are taking his office three to six months to process without any hiccups.
From start to finish, the Sheriff's Office handles all pistol permit requests. That includes background checks and mental health evaluations, the latter of which were once handled by the state.
A judge makes the final call on approving the application.
Asked of the recent spike, Whitcomb said, "A lot of people are concerned about what the governor is doing. They are monitoring what is going on."
In Chautauqua County, a part-time clerk was brought in to assist in the number of pistol permit applications. Sheriff Joe Gerace said the spike in requests date back to 2008 when President Barack Obama was elected.
The state's gun control law further pushed delays in the Sheriff's Office. Gerace said applications are taking anywhere from six months to a year to process.
"There is a lot we have to deal with," Gerace said earlier this month. "There is fingerprinting. There is investigations. We have to do a lot of digging to ensure the licenses are going to the right people."