By Rick Pfeiffer firstname.lastname@example.org
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It’s an idea whose goal is to better deploy police resources across Niagara County.
Three months in, a plan that saw dispatchers at the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office 911 Center take over directing both deputies and New York State Police troopers from the Lockport and the Town of Niagara barracks appears to be a success.
“I like it, it’s working great,” Niagara County Undersheriff Mike Filicetti said.
Prior to Nov. 1, troopers were dispatched from the State Police barracks on Robinson Road on their own radio frequency. Now the troopers and deputies are on the same frequency.
“We shared calls in the past,” Sheriff Jim Voutour said. “But the critical difference now is the county (sheriff’s) channel is now the primary channel (for dispatching calls).”
Voutour says that has allowed troopers and deputies to monitor each other’s calls and has led to a more efficient deployment of police resources in the county. Trooper posts now mirror sheriff’s deputies’ zones and that means responding cars are evenly spread through the county.
The move has also put more troopers on county roads.
“We have more cars in more places now. And I believe it has improved our response time to calls,” Voutour said.
The Niagara County Public Safety Training Center, which houses the 911 center, was constructed with an eye toward eventually having one consolidated dispatch center to serve all Niagara County residents. The Sheriff’s Office moved its dispatch functions into the center in 2007 and currently dispatches sheriff’s patrol, all town and village police departments, the North Tonawanda police and fire departments and all county volunteer fire and ambulance services.
According to Voutour, the sheriff’s office taking over the state police dispatching was an idea that came from a new State Police zone major.
“He had done a similar thing when he was (stationed) in central New York. One of is his first missions was to (consolidate) the dispatch here,” Voutour said.
State police staff at the Lockport barracks, who handle non-emergency business, can still be contacted there. There is also an emergency call box at the front door of the barracks in the case someone comes there with an emergency. The call box rings into the 911 center, allowing the closest available police car to be dispatched.
“I believe that this consolidation of dispatch services provides the citizens of Niagara County with the best in police service and response times while also providing for an increase in the safety of our officers,” State Police Captain Craig Hanesworth, who commands the Lockport barracks, said.
“This consolidation allows us to reassign troopers to road patrol functions who would have otherwise been delegated to dispatch and clerical administrative functions. This move should help increase police coverage and response times in the county.”Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252.