VERTICAL SOUND.... A sound coming down from heaven!
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By Nolan Harkness, Author and Journalist



I had the privilege on October 22nd, of attending the local election debate in Elmira NY between candidates Art Laurey and Bill Schrom, both who are running for Chemung County Sheriff. The event was aired by local television station WETM.


While the candidates agreed in some areas, the debate came close to becoming heated on a couple of topics.


One of the controversial questions presented by the moderators was concerning the four apparent suicides inside the Chemung County Jail in a recent eighteen month time period. According to the “Marshall Project”, which is a respected and reputable study and website, the average number of suicides per year in jails is 46 per 100,000 inmates.


It doesn’t take a math genius to recognize that for Chemung county to have four in eighteen months is a huge percentage! The mathematician that I consulted with to calculate this ratio using a realistic and approximate number of local inmates is that four suicides in an eighteen-month window is seven to ten times the national average. When Bill Schrom was specifically asked if our numbers were higher than the national average he completely skirted the question. Art Laurey, on the other hand knows that these numbers are extremely high and speaks clearly about wanting to make a change in these type inmate tragedies should he be elected Sheriff. Although Bill Schrom also knows these numbers are extremely high, he deflected the question by referring to a New York State investigation exonerating any of his corrections officers from wrongdoing in any of these four deaths. What he does not tell us is that those investigations have to do with those corrections officers following protocol, which they did. Candidate Laurey’s point was that at any time temporary acting Sheriff Bill Schrom could have ordered additional safety watches to be placed on any of these inmates that would have provided constant 24/7 sight and sound surveillance of these inmates, thus assuring their safety. Not doing so especially in the case of the young lady who most recently committed, suicide after her father called twice to alert the sheriff’s office that their daughter was suicidal would appear to approach criminal neglect. One questions why, as a result of all his special training and experience, which temporary acting Schrom cited as a reason to vote for him, he did not have the wisdom to implement stringent procedures to protect against the possibility of suicide. It really amazes me that these four deaths inside a time period of eighteen months in the Chemung County Jail have not made national news!


I also find it interesting that although temporary acting Sheriff Schrom reported that

his agency worked well together with other law enforcement agencies in the area, but did not seem to know how many counties are in the Southern Tier. He tried to correct Art Laurey, as Mr. Laurey was talking about Chemung County having the second highest homicide rate in fourteen county Southern Tier area, second only to Broome County which has a much higher population. Mr. Schrom mistakenly stated that there were only eight counties while in truth there are fourteen. In addition Mr. Laurey’s research is correct and can easily be collaborated with a simple Internet search on both the number of counties and the comparative number of homicides in Chemung County with other counties.


A quick search on any computer’s Google site entering these words “Is Elmira NY safe” will quickly bring up a confirmed stat that Art keeps quoting to try to make the residents of Chemung County Aware of. I quote from the reputable Neighborhood Scout website “ Based on FBI crime data, Elmira is not one of the safest communities in America. Relative to New York, Elmira has a crime rate that is higher than 97% of the states cities and towns of all sizes.


I am sure there are a lot of business’s and especially real estate companies in this area that would not want that information to get out! But it’s the truth confirmed by the FBI by a law enforcement official this week. It is an established FBI stat! Candidate Art Laurey seemed compassionate about looking squarely at such credible stats and to begin a program that will start immediately reducing crime in this county.


To some, it may seem a little foggy to some to try to understand Mr. Laurey’s repeated remarks concerning the fact that if this acting temporary Sheriff Schrom is elected, that there will be more of the same for over 70 years. In talking with Art Laurey, he explained that what he is referring to is that it has been that long that the Republican Party has had their candidates win the position for Chemung County Sheriff. Candidate Art Laurey has been forced to run as an independent. He is so strongly convinced that there is a need for change he feels he has no choice.


Sitting through the debate and being very familiar with the issues, I personally feel that temporary acting Sheriff Bill Schrom camouflaged the negative numbers and gave a very weak explanation of any viable plans to decrease the disturbingly high local crime. Art Laurey’s platform slogan “Make Chemung County Safe Again” and his ideas of combining the efforts of the citizens of Chemung County working together with law enforcement is a proven plan that has worked in other cities across America. My hat goes off to Art Laurey in tonight’s debate. He did not come with icing for the cake he came with a meat and potatoes plan that would work if we would all accept the responsibility to work together. In Boston Massachusetts a highly successful plan was implemented similar to what Arthur Laurey is promoting. A quick read through of this inspiring web published story, will help us all realize that Candidate Laurey has a good plan that has worked in many other cities and it can work here if voters will give him the chance to implement it!



Author/ Journalist Nolan J Harkness has lived in Chemung County for over thirty years. He spent most of his adult life ministering to teenagers and troubled youth. For thirteen years he hosted a syndicated radio broadcast called “Teen Talk Radio” which covered most of the populated northeast. He has had over eighty articles published in the last year and a half in “The Christian Post” which is the largest Christian newspaper in the world. Many other newspaper publications pick up and republish his articles each week. He has been an ordained minister in an interdenominational organization for many years. He is the president and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. His website is