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North Tonawanda, Niagara County make police dispatch deal

North Tonawanda police will have a separate radio channel on Niagara County's emergency dispatching system as of Jan. 1, officials announced Friday.

The city's police union had complained that dispatching by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, using on a common channel with other police agencies, had sometimes produced slow response times.

Sheriff James R. Voutour, who has strongly defended his dispatchers' work, predicted response times won't change.

"Perception is reality," he said.

In a five-year deal, Niagara County will hire three full-time and four part-time dispatchers to staff the North Tonawanda channel. The city will pay all but $50,000 of the expense, which begins at $296,000 in 2018 and rises to $343,000 by 2021.

The city's 46 officers agreed to give up a scheduled 2 percent raise for 2018, but Mayor Arthur G. Pappas conceded that won't cover the cost of the dispatchers.

"We have to take it from other areas," he said. "It's certainly not inexpensive."

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