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County Administrator Jason Molino announced a leadership transition Tuesday at the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response.  Several months ago Director of Emergency Response Lee Shurtleff announced his intent to depart Tompkins County government and pursue other opportunities after more than 30 years of dedicated service with Tompkins County. To facilitate this leadership transition in the department, the County will utilize the services of an Interim Director, anticipated over the next 18 months.

"I am pleased to announce that former County Undersheriff Brian Robison has accepted the position of Interim Director of Emergency Response as of January 1," Molino said. "Brian brings to the position considerable experience in public service in Tompkins County—including the past four years as Undersheriff, service on the County Legislature between 2010 and 2014 (where, in part, he chaired the Public Safety Committee), and more than two decades of service as an investigator with the Ithaca Police Department."

Robison commenced full-time service in the Department of Emergency Response as of Monday, January 7. Shurtleff will assist Robison with the transition during the month of January. After that time he will continue to provide support and consultation to the department on a part-time basis, until his official retirement in April 2020.

"It is difficult to envision Tompkins County's Department of Emergency Response without Lee Shurtleff at the helm. We truly appreciate the dedicated service Lee has provided to Tompkins County and its emergency services over his many years of leadership," Molino stated.

Examples of the many accomplishments benefiting the County and its public safety community during Director Shurtleff's tenure:

  • The decade-long development and implementation of the County’s new 800 MHz P25 radio system (the largest capital project in County history) which has ensured excellent coverage and interoperability among agencies, and also enabled federal interoperability capability—addressing interoperability needs dramatically emphasized during the nation’s 9-11-2001 terrorist event;
  • Opening of the new DOER building housing a consolidated 911 Center and communications and dispatch facility;
  • In partnership with County Information Technology Services, acquiring and implementing the new Spillman Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system;
  • Acquiring a series of grants that were used to replace the 911 phone system, upgraded the Motorola operating system, replaced the recording system, and upgraded the microwave system;
  • Implementation of emergency medical dispatch (EMD) protocols;
  • Entering into collaborative agreement with the City of Ithaca to support the training center and a county-wide hazardous materials response capability;
  • Development of the County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Program, incorporating an “all-hazards” approach, as a result of the 9-11 terrorism and widespread catastrophic natural disasters in the early 2000s, and spurring unprecedented levels of cooperation and involvement by the county’s many disciplines and responders.

Shurtleff began service with Tompkins County as a fire dispatcher in March 1988, a position he continued on a part-time basis once appointed County Elections Commissioner in January 1989. In August 1997, he was named Assistant Fire and Disaster Coordinator, was promoted to Director of the Emergency Communications Center in 2002, then to Director of the Department of Emergency response in April 2003.

"We look forward to benefiting from the experience of both Lee Shurtleff and Brian Robison, as two experienced public safety administrators, to guide the department through this important transition," Molino said.

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