Two Republican office-seekers turned the heat up Friday in the North Tonawanda election campaign by calling for a shake-up of the city Police Department, including replacement of the chief.
In a joint statement, GOP mayoral candidate Donald L. March and 5th Ward alderman candidate Scott Kiedrowski said the department "is in need of drastic reform" and offered a plan to provide it.
March, a former city alderman, said the Common Council's failure to fill a current vacancy for a police captain has cost city taxpayers $21,000 in overtime while promotion from a list of three lower-ranked candidates would cost about $9,600.
"When the Council starts playing party politics with police department promotions at public expense, we as taxpayers must stand up and say, 'This type of behavior will not be tolerated,' " March and Kiedrowski said.
March said that a police union contract requirement states that a captain must be on duty at all times, and the state requires that absent police captains and lieutenants must be replaced by officers of equal rank. Fill-in overtime pay for these positions cost the taxpayers almost $275 per day.
March and Kiedrowski presented a four-step reorganizational plan calling for:
Resignation of Police Chief Lloyd C. Graves to allow for a successor to totally revamp the department.
A national search of outside candidates with new ideas for reform and growth for the job of chief.
Changing the city charter to allow the new chief full autonomy over the appointment, promotion, assignment and discipline of police officers.
Streamlining of disciplinary proceedings that now can take years to complete.
Election day is November 4.