LOCKPORT – Officer Matthew T. Streckewald was confirmed as Lockport’s new K-9 officer Wednesday.
Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said Streckewald, a nine-year police veteran, will undergo a training course lasting about 12 weeks and also must pass a certification from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services before he can take charge of the city’s new police dog.
That dog has yet to be chosen, but Eggert said it will likely cost $3,500 to $6,000.
“Some citizens have come forward and offered money toward the dog,” Eggert said. “Anything that’s not covered (by donations) would be covered by assets forfeiture.”
He was referring the city’s share of Drug Enforcement Administration seizures of property from area drug dealers, money the city receives in exchange for lending an officer to the DEA.
Eggert said forfeiture money also could be applied to help pay for overtime other officers might incur while Streckewald is in dog training. He is a member of the daytime police shift.
There was talk that the city would drop the K-9 service for financial reasons, after longtime K-9 Officer Steven Ritchie retired at the beginning of June and was allowed to take his dog with him. The police dog lives at the officer’s home.
Some residents circulated petitions calling on the city to keep the K-9 service.
Streckewald was chosen by the Police Board on July 7, but the news was withheld until Streckewald returned from vacation and could be informed personally.
Also Wednesday, the Common Council agreed to consider obtaining a computer software package to prepare the biweekly payroll.
City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said each department does its payroll differently, but none of them is automated. She said the payments for overtime and various extra payments included in the different union contracts all are calculated manually.
“If there’s an error, even if it’s 1 percent on a $12 million payroll, that’s a lot of money,” Pasceri said. “I have a spreadsheet, and it’s handwritten, every different payroll.”
Eggert said the police payroll is the most complex of all because of shift differentials, out-of-grade pay and a variety of other payments, and takes several hours to figure out. He said a software package “would cut down on the labor significantly.”
Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said the city has one person, Christina M. Brown, who prepares the paychecks from the departmental submissions.
“We don’t have a good backup to Chris,” McCaffrey said. She said the city staff needs cross-training for different duties and better checks and balances.
“If it were in a computer program, we wouldn’t have to recreate it every week,” McCaffrey said.
“Problems like this are what these payroll companies are paid to solve,” Alderman Ronald A. Franco said.