By A.J. RAO
Special to the OBSERVER
The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office began dispatching New York State Troopers based in Jamestown and Fredonia Monday and will continue to do so as a way to improve efficiency and police response times.
Pictured from the left are Captain Edward Kennedy, Sheriff Joseph Gerace and Major Michael Cerretto.
The State Police, which currently dispatches troopers from its Jamestown barracks, located on Route 60 in Ellicott, will transfer its phone lines to the Sheriff's Office 911 Center, which, according to the Sheriff's Office, is fully accredited by the New York State Sheriff's Association and meets or exceeds all standards required by the state. Troopers will also switch to the Sheriff's Office police radio frequency as their primary channel.
"It's a positive step forward," said Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace. "This partnership with the New York State Police is important for the efficiency of dispatching the closest available unit to emergencies ... and provides for better coordination of resources. It also comes at a time when governments are being asked to reduce expenses and share services. It just makes sense to combine dispatching into one central location where equipment and resources can be dedicated to a single site."
State Police Captain Edward Kennedy echoed Gerace's comment, stating that the consolidation of services not only improves police service and response times, but increases the safety of 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," Kennedy said. "This move should help increase police coverage and response times in the county."
The Sheriff's Office currently dispatches the sheriff's patrol, Jamestown Police, Ellicott Police, Westfield Police, Lakewood-Busti Police, Carroll Police and the Chautauqua Institution Police. They also dispatch 41 of the county's 42 fire departments. They do not dispatch for either Dunkirk or Fredonia Police Departments.
The Sheriff's Office also dispatches all 911 calls, including Dunkirk and Fredonia, in the county.
Gerace, who praised his dispatchers for having "the highest level of training available," indicated that his 911 center was the first in the state to implement Smart911, a service which allows residents to create safety profiles that enable dispatchers to quickly access their information during an emergency.
"Everyone is encouraged to create a public safety profile by visiting www.smart911.com ... it is completely confidential and has proven to be life-saving," Gerace said.