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Chief wants to keep dispatch center

Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said he wants to keep the emergency dispatch duties within the police department.

The town is considering moving its dispatch operations to the Hamburg town police dispatch center. Hamburg opened a new center last fall, which has room to accommodate calls from several other agencies.

But Benz told board members Wednesday night it is important to keep the Orchard Park dispatch center in the police station in the Municipal Center on South Buffalo Street.

He said a number of residents come in off the street to the station with questions and concerns, and to report crimes -- including the most notorious crime committed in Orchard Park in recent memory.

"I think most of you know Mo Hassan came into the station to basically confess to killing his wife," he said, questioning whether Muzzammil S. Hassan, charged with killing his wife, would have picked up a telephone to call.

Benz also said he was concerned that Hamburg dispatchers may not be familiar with the local landmarks in Orchard Park, and he questioned what priority Orchard Park calls would be given.

"Who are our citizens going to be talking to?" he asked. "Someone who knows something about Orchard Park?"

Not having dispatchers at night in Orchard Park could take an officer off the street, or could require calling someone in on overtime, should police bring in a prisoner in the evening for arraignment the next morning, the chief said.

The desk officers and public safety dispatchers also have other duties in addition to dispatching, he said.

"There are all kinds of things that they participate in and get done here that somehow are still going to have to get done by somebody," he said.

Supervisor Janis Colarusso said the town is looking at contracting the dispatching to save money.

"I don't think anyone wants to get rid of anything because we don't want it," she said.

She suggested the two towns work together on dispatching. She also said Orchard Park is still waiting for specifics from Hamburg on what it would charge per call. Orchard Park has about 22,000 calls a year.

The Hamburg center dispatches police calls for the Hamburg town and village police, Blasdell police, 17 fire departments, the Southtowns HazMat Team and Hamburg Water Rescue.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com