The Niagara County Sheriff's Office 911 center has begun dispatching for the New York State Police barracks in both Lockport and the Town of Niagara.
Currently, the State Police dispatches troopers from the barracks on Dysinger Road in the Town of Lockport. On Nov. 1, the police phone lines from the barracks were transferred to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office 911 center and the troopers will switch to the Sheriff's Office police radio frequency as their primary channel. All 911 calls via cell phones are currently received by the Sheriff's Office 911 center staff at the State Police Lockport barracks. Non-emergency business may still be conducted by calling 716-434-5589.
There will also be an emergency call box located at the front door of the Lockport barracks in the event a citizen arrives at the barracks with an emergency. The call box will ring into the 911 center and the closest available police car will be dispatched.
The Niagara County Public Safety Training Center, which houses the 911 center, was funded by the Niagara County Legislature in January 2001 through a resolution dedicating Tobacco Settlement Funds to the project. The goal was to move toward one consolidated dispatch center to serve all Niagara County residents.
The Sheriff's Office moved its dispatch functions into the center in 2007 and currently dispatches sheriff's patrol, all town and village police departments, the City of North Tonawanda police and fire departments and all county volunteer fire and ambulance services.
The 911 center maintains a staff of approximately 30 civilian dispatchers and each shift is staffed with four to six dispatchers. On April 5, 2011, the Niagara County Sheriff's 911 Center received full 911 state accreditation status. The center was required to meet several difficult standards, which included many hours of difficult training for the dispatchers.
Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour said, "The partnership with the State Police comes at a time when governments are being asked to cut expenses and share services. It just makes sense to combine dispatching into one central location where future equipment and resources can be dedicated to a single site."
A full upgrade in radios and towers for communication is currently underway to comply with federal mandates for narrow banding. The $10 million project, contracted to Motorola, will narrow the current bandwidth for police communications to free up addition spectrum for first responders and private industry. The project has a target date of August 2014 for completion. The Sheriff's Office also recently received a $750,000 grant to upgrade computer-aided dispatch for police and fire so that all the emergency responders using the dispatch center will share the same information platform.
State Police Capt. Craig Hanesworth said, "I believe that this consolidation of dispatch services provides the citizens of Niagara County with the best in police service and response times while also providing for an increase in the safety of our officers. In addition, this consolidation allows us to reassign Troopers to road patrol functions who would have otherwise been delegated to dispatch and clerical administrative functions. This move should help increase police coverage and response times in the county."