MAYVILLE -- Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace commented Tuesday on the escape of two prisoners from Dannemora Maximum Security Prison in Clinton County, and another high-profile manhunt in 2006.
Gerace said unlike the summer-long search and eventual capture of Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, both Richard Matt and David Sweat hatched a more elaborate plan to never return.
Phillips, who escaped from the Erie County Correctional Facility, was on the run for months after shooting three state troopers, and killing one.
"Phillips taunted law enforcement by continuing to come in and out of the area. Phillips was very unusual, unique. He could have gone far away very easily several times. He had vehicles, he continued to come back and it was a game for him," said Gerace.
Though the state police led the search for Phillips, Gerace says he hopes one of the lessons learned this time around is the need for more inter-agency cooperation and unified command.
"You have to use every agency and entity available to you and keep them in the loop and that wasn't done in the Phillips search," said Gerace.
"Some inmate is always scheming and devising a way to beat your security system, so just when you think it can't happen, it can," said James Crowell, Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office Jail Administrator.
The Chautauqua County Jail has looked closely at its own security in wake of on-going construction. Deputies continue to check power tool inventory and cell block crawl spaces to help avoid a potential copycat.
"Double checking, making sure we're not complacent, nobody's going to be sitting back on my watch thinking this couldn't happen here. I don't see how it could, but I bet they didn't either," said Crowell,
Given the sharp drop in the number of statewide prison escapes over the years, Gerace says the Dannemora break is unusual.
"Much more rare in a jail setting because the inmate doesn't have the kind of time to plot," said Gerace.
Gerace says the correction officer to inmate ratio is also higher in the jail.