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CALL FOR REGIONAL POLICE FINDS NO SUPPORT

A regional police force such as the one proposed last week by Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra is out of the question, Cheektowaga officials said Monday.

And a growing chorus of suburban leaders agree.

"I do not want to trust policing for this community in the hands of one regional police force," Town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said Monday night.

Gabryszak and others wasted no time during Monday's board meeting in praising Cheektowaga police and the officers' knowledge of the town and its citizens.

In his State of the County address last week, Giambra asked why there should be separate police departments for various municipalities "when we are one region, we are one target for terrorists, we are one emergency response system, we have one Homeland Security grant, we are opening one state-of-the-art Public Safety Campus."

"Why can't we have one, unified, professional, regional public safety agency?" Giambra said.

Gabryszak said he expects Cheektowaga's to be among the town boards that will soon pass resolutions "in opposition to this notion."

He said the county should be concentrating on stabilizing its finances rather than talking about regional police.

"That's not to say . . . (that) along the line there couldn't be some shared services," he said.

Council Member James J. Jankowiak brought up a sore subject for many in the suburbs: the county's takeover of Buffalo parks.

"Let's look back one year. The county takes over Buffalo parks," said Jankowiak, who was county parks commissioner under then-County Executive Dennis T. Gorski. "The following year his budget fails. What does he do? Close the (county) parks."

If there is another county budget crisis, "what would he do, close the police?" Jankowiak said.

"A fair balance has to be struck," said Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr., who is seeking a County Legislature seat.

And Council Member Jeff Swiatek, who ran for county comptroller four years ago, said that "regional police makes no sense whatsoever."

Amherst Town Board members Monday unanimously rejected Giambra's call for a regional police force. The measure, co-sponsored by Supervisor Susan J. Grelick and her frequent political opponent, Council Member William L. Kindel, praises the Amherst Police Department and notes that the town is joining forces with three other nearby towns -- Tonawanda, Lancaster and Cheektowaga -- to oppose Giambra's initiative.

News Northtowns Bureau Reporter Thomas J. Dolan contributed to this report.
e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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