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Discussions with Chautauqua County to examine combining police services

JAMESTOWN -- The city and Chautauqua County soon will begin face-to-face discussions about consolidating police services.

Jamestown Police Chief Rex Rater told City Council members this week that Sheriff Joe Gerace had called to say the county was ready to begin discussions.

Rater said a committee has been selected to represent the city, and he and Gerace will soon set a date for the first meeting.

Officials have discussed regional policing for several years, but these would be the first formal talks on the issue, Rater said.

"The mayor and City Council have a group of representatives from the city that will also sit down with them," the chief said. "There's been a lot of talk about it, and I know that it's been a desire of both sides to sit down and discuss what it might look like."

Rater said he looks forward to the talks but emphasized the importance of defining the issues at the start.

The key issue, he said, would be whether consolidation would produce a mutual benefit.

The idea of including other local police agencies also will be brought up.

Rater noted that Metro 6, a group of leaders from Jamestown and the surrounding towns, also has considered police consolidation.

"I know the Metro 6 have talked about it for a long time, and they are interested in any initiatives that can deliver services better and more cost-effectively," he said of the group, formed several years ago to examine regionalism and other issues. "They have talked about it, but at this point it's only the town and the city."

To date, the city and county have consolidated 911 emergency communications, but since that move several years ago, there have been no further consolidations.

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