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NIAGARA FALLS -- The city is hiring 12 police officers today to help address a Police Department manpower crunch.

Until now, Police Superintendent Christopher J. Carlin has been forced to juggle his staff to keep road patrols up to snuff because 15 officers retired over the past year and four others are off duty because of injuries.

The new officers, all selected from the city's civil service list, will be sworn in at 5:30 p.m. today in City Hall.

Three will be able to begin work almost immediately because they have experience with other police departments, Carlin said.

"They'll only need a couple weeks of field training (with another city police officer)," Lt. John P. DeMarco said.

"That's going to help a great deal," Carlin said, noting it will enable him to put another officer on each shift to cover road patrols.

The remaining nine officers will start taking the Basic Police Officer Training Course on Monday at the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, DeMarco said.

And though the 12 new officers "should bring us up to a manageable strength once they are out on the road," Carlin said, it will be about eight months before the nine new recruits will be able to patrol the city on their own.

Carlin said the new officers will graduate from the academy in July and then will have to undergo about 16 weeks of field training with an experienced officer before they can patrol on their own.

Blown fuse prevents alarm transmission

LOCKPORT -- A fire alarm at the Niagara County Courthouse Tuesday was not transmitted to the Lockport Fire Department because of a blown fuse, Public Works Commissioner Dorson R. Wilson said Wednesday.

The building was evacuated when alarms went off shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday because of a malfunctioning smoke detector.

Firefighters did not arrive for 15 minutes, even though the Lockport fire station is two blocks from the courthouse. They said they had not received the alarm and were finally summoned by radio by sheriff's deputies.

Wilson said, "We were connected. We had a fuse blown and it wasn't replaced. It was taken care of at 7 (Wednesday) morning."

Jetliner makes unscheduled landing

A United Airlines 737 made an unscheduled landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Wednesday morning after its right engine stalled whil the plan was en route from LaGuardia Airport to Chicago, said Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officials.

The plane, carrying 31 people, touched down safely just before 8 a.m., as NFTA air rescue firefighters stood by in case of emergency, according to C. Douglas Hartmayer, NFTA director of public affairs.

Airport officials were notified of the plane's problems, appropriately enough, at 7:37 a.m. The plane landed 20 minutes later.

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