Niagara Gazette — The Niagara County Sheriff's Office will handle all dispatching duties for the New York State Police's barracks in the towns of Niagara and Lockport, beginning today.
Sheriff James R. Voutour said phone lines will be transferred today from the Lockport barracks to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office 911 center, while state troopers will switch over to the sheriff’s office police radio frequency as their primary channel. State troopers were previously handling dispatching duties from the Lockport barracks.
The only significant change will be for those who dial the state police barracks directly, Voutour said. The sheriff's office was already handling dispatch services for state police calls outside Lockport and Niagara Falls.
"We do a lot of it now," Voutour said.
The 911 center also dispatches calls for the sheriff’s office, Niagara County town and village police departments, the City of North Tonawanda Police and Fire departments and all county volunteer fire and ambulance services.
And even before Thursday's announcement, the sheriff’s office 911 center was handling all emergency calls that came from a cell phone within Niagara County.
Discussion about combining dispatching services started about 12 years ago.
The Niagara County Public Safety Training Center, which houses the 911 center and is located next to the Niagara County Jail on Niagara Street Extension, was funded by the Niagara County Legislature in January 2001 through a resolution using tobacco settlement funds. The goal then was to move toward one consolidated dispatch center and the Sheriff’s Office moved its dispatch functions there in 2007. "And here we are 12 years later," Voutour said.
The 911 center maintains a staff of approximately 30 civilian dispatchers, with each shift staffed with 4 to 6 dispatchers. Even though the staff is stretched thin as is, the center will be able to handle the new arrangement, Voutour said.
"We're hoping we can accommodate," he said. "They're pretty taxed, but no (extra dispatchers) as of right now."