NORTH TONAWANDA – The North Tonawanda police union said it will offer the city contract concessions if the city returns dispatching duties to the Police Department.
Mayor Arthur G. Pappas said the matter is under discussion by the Common Council and city attorneys.
"We don't have the licensing, we don't have the equipment, we are completely unprepared to handle dispatch," Pappas said.
North Tonawanda turned its dispatching work over to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office in 2012, and six civilian dispatchers became county employees. The city paid a share of their salaries and benefits until 2016.
Lt. Daryl Truty, president of the North Tonawanda Police Benevolent Association, said Thursday that the union would agree to forgo some of its scheduled raises over the next two years, saving the city $140,000. He said if one of the 48 officers retired or resigned, the additional savings would give the city enough money to hire five civilian 911 dispatchers.
Truty said the city would have to spend about $400,000 on radio equipment to re-establish its own 911 center to handle police and fire calls.
"We have been given figures that are much, much higher," Pappas said.
The PBA filed a lawsuit against the city and county last August, seeking to invalidate the transfer of duties. The suit contends the transfer slowed police communications and violated state law. State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso, however, threw out the suit Dec. 1, ruling that the statute of limitations expired. The union filed an appeal Feb. 1.
Truty said the union would drop the appeal and a related state grievance if the city negotiated a return of local dispatching.
The union has posted an online petition in favor of returning dispatching to North Tonawanda, which had garnered 452 signatures as of early Thursday afternoon.
The Sheriff's Office currently handles dispatching for all municipal police and fire agencies in Niagara County, except for the Lockport Police and the Niagara Falls Police and Fire departments.
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