A change to the rank of sergeant may soon occur in the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff James Voutour spoke to the county Legislature's community safety and security committee Tuesday, stating the department's want to change the title from sergeant to lieutenant.

Voutour said in every law enforcement agency in the county — with the exception of Lewiston — the title for the superior directly responsible for the deputy is a lieutenant, not sergeant.

The change will have no financial impact on the county budget and it is not a promotion. Because of that, no official approval needs to be given. Civil service testing will also not change.

Voutour said currently, when a deputy takes the civil service test for sergeant, they are put in the same room as officers taking the lieutenant test from Lockport and Niagara Falls. He said the questions on both tests are the same, the only difference is that one says sergeant and the other says lieutenant. 

"The questions are the same," he said.

Voutour said the Police Benevolent Association first brought the request to his attention. If everything goes correctly, he said the change will take place in approximately 30 days, once a memorandum of understanding is approved by the union.

When it occurs, the nine sergeants in the sheriff's department will now sport a white shirt with a single bar on the collar, versus their current blue shirt with stripes on the sleeve.

In the sheriff's department, the hierarchy would now go deputy, lieutenant, captain, chief deputy, undersheriff and sheriff.

"That would put our first line supervisors in rank with all the other police agencies in Niagara County," Voutour said. "It would not require testing, there would be no difference in pay."

Contact reporter Rikki Cason at 439-9222, ext. 6252.

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