Police departments consolidating dispatch centers
— The City of Lockport would pay much less to join the Niagara County Sheriff's central dispatch center under two new, tentative proposals for consolidating the 911 emergency call centers.(Photo/Air Force by Kelly White) LPD's dispatch center is down to one working phone line.Voutour's proposal also would allow Mayor Michelle Roman to begin dispatch negotiations with LPD's union, the Hickory Club.A 2015 memorandum of understanding between the city and the union stipulates that police officers handle dispatch for LPD."I can’t go to them with what-ifs," Roman said.The mayor’s chief of staff, Kathleen Long, said other changes under the merger will take place “behind the scenes” in ways that won’t affect residents.
But Interim Police Chief Steven Preisch asked why city residents, who already pay county taxes, should have to shoulder that cost alone."Why do the city residents have to absorb that cost, when it should be absorbed ... But County Manager Rick Updegrove pointed out 12 of the county's 15 legislators do not represent Lockport, and said they would be reluctant to override the property tax cap to fund a dispatch consolidation deal that's better for city taxpayers."The county will not override the cap,” Updegrove said.If that line fails, 911 calls in the city would go to county dispatch, after a delay.Sheriff Jim Voutour previously said LPD could go on the sheriff's office frequency and share it with other county law enforcement agencies for about 6,000 a year, or retain its own frequency at an estimated cost of 8,000 per year. The Common Council is also considering a motion to replace LPD's outdated dispatch system at a cost of 2,000, though that would be unnecessary if the centers are consolidated.
City and county leaders are in negotiations to transfer Lockport Police Department's in-house dispatch system to county central dispatch.Councilman Michael Jackson, chairman of the public safety committee, said the recent 911 calls made by Jameek Lowery — and the fact that he was transferred from one dispatcher to another — underscored the problem with the city’s system. “If someone’s life is at risk, you need to get the ambulance there as soon as possible.” The city’s public works department and emergency management division also will become part of the consolidated communications center, which will operate at police headquarters.