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Protest set, but plan to cut police denied

The word around the Town of Tonawanda, Mary DeLattre says, is the new Democrat-dominated Town Board proposes "severe cuts" in the Police Department.

In response, DeLattre, a public safety volunteer, and others have organized a community group to protest downsizing the police force.

But the demonstration planned for Monday could be in vain, since no Town Board member has made any such proposal.

"We've hired three new officers so far this year," Councilman Joseph Emminger noted. "We are not going to take police officers off the street. I don't know where they heard that. Nobody's going to lose their job."

But at a recent committee meeting, Emminger voted against promotions involving a captain, two lieutenants and three detectives. He said he wants to get a better sense of the town's finances at the end of the fiscal year before approving promotions.

DeLattre said she formed the Town of Tonawanda Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community a month ago as the talk of cuts increased and spread throughout the town.

"There are going to be cuts to the Police Department; they are not going to allow any promotions and overtime; and there will be cuts to public safety programs," DeLattre said. "These are things I've heard through the grapevine."

The Town Board's Democrats are in favor of eliminating one of the department's two assistant police chief positions and have proposed cutting the position in the past.

DeLattre, a retired registered nurse, plans to lead Monday's protest outside the Municipal Building before the Town Board's regular meeting, where she intends to speak. She said she expected at least 50 people to turn out to support the group.

The coalition, DeLattre said, also opposes a proposal to abolish the Citizens Commission on Local Government.

Although she and other group members have not discussed these issues with Town Board members, she specified Emminger as the member proposing the cuts.

But he denied any such plans, saying, "They've never called me; this is the first I've heard about it."

Emminger said he favors reorganizing the Police Department, since that has not been done since the 1960s.


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