Seeing a city of Dunkirk police cruiser on patrol in the town of Dunkirk took another step toward reality Tuesday as Common Council gave its approval to a trial of the arrangement.
Council's unanimous approval of Resolution 68-2012 allows the city to enter into a shared services agreement to provide limited, secondary and accessory police patrols in the town. Lacking its own police department, the town is looking for additional police services to augment coverage now provided by the Chautauqua County Sheriffs and the New York State Police.
According to 68-2012, the city has the capability to provide the service and "it is in the best interests of the city to provide such limited, secondary and accessory police patrols." The trial agreement would run through 2012 with the town paying the city $1,500 per month.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Police Chief David Ortolano addresses Common Council Tuesday to explain the proposed trial contract with the town of Dunkirk to provide secondary police patrols to the town. The plan calls for 12 hours per week, if the city has an available patrol vehicle.
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce addressed the issue prior to the vote.
"I'm pleased to announce another proactive project with the town of Dunkirk, for shared police services. There's a couple things that I really want to point out though," he began. "The first one is, I can't emphasize enough that the city will simply be providing secondary police patrol in the town of Dunkirk. The purpose is to increase visibility in the neighborhoods and the business district in the town of Dunkirk. As always, the city and its residents will remain our primary focus.
"Our officers will patrol those areas for a total of 12 hours a week maximum. The dates and times will fluctuate as we are available to provide such service. That is something that we agreed to with the town."
Dolce also pointed out if the town board approves the deal at its Aug. 14 meeting, it was on a trial basis until Dec. 31.
"At that point, if this is not working we can amend. The two different municipalities can amend the contract so that it becomes agreeable for both sides, or, we can walk away," he explained. "I feel, and again I stress, that both municipalities are merely dipping their toe in the water here. I look forward to seeing where this goes. Again, shared services is something that's often talked about but very rarely followed through upon.
"This is an opportunity to do such a thing and from there we can see where it goes."
Dolce then called on Police Chief David Ortolano.
"My priority, the department's priority, is the city of Dunkirk. ... Town residents are still to call 911 or the Sheriff's Department. We will not be taking calls or responding cars to day-to-day activities," Ortolano stated. "When our officers are out on routine patrol, when they are available, they will go out to the business and residential security checks ... when they are available to do that. They will be assigned by the shift supervisor to do that ... if we have a car available to respond to provide this service to the town.
"If anybody has any worries, if we do have a car outside of the city in the town we still have our other primary response cars that will be in the city. Only one car at a time, and if something does arise, rest assured that car will be immediately returned to the city."
He added the return time would be minimal.
"If other issues arise our officers will take necessary action and notify the sheriff's department to respond with their vehicles and take over as the primary law enforcement. As the mayor said, this is something that's a trial basis."
Ortolano said the town approached the city.
"We made it very clear to them that our primary, and our priority, is the city of Dunkirk. They understand that and they are absolutely OK with that. ... We'll give it a try, we will see how it goes, and then we'll take it from there."
Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera called it an important first step and commended the mayor and chief before the vote.
"There's been a lot of talk of this in the past, and in thinking about it, I see no reason for the pushback or the reservation that there always has been," Rivera stated. "I just want to take a minute to commend you guys for I do truly believe this is the future, particularly for Dunkirk and the surrounding areas."
After the meeting Ortolano was asked if the $1,500 will cover the city's costs.
"Right now we're doing it with on-shift people so it's just a dollar amount, an hourly rate that was worked out at 12 hours a week," he replied. "It is secondary patrols, we will not be handling any calls for service. ... Unless there's an emergency situation that arises or something that our officers feel that they would need to take care of. Then they would take the necessary action at that point in time, again, while having the Sheriff's Department and the State Police respond in vehicles to their location."
Ortolano also had a plug from a safety aspect for tonight's National Night Out program in Washington Park.
"From the Police Department standpoint we can't make the community safe without the help of the residents, it's just not possible. Crime prevention is a community problem and we need the help of the community," he explained. "Sometimes by breaking down these barriers and talking with the residents, getting them to interact with our police officers on a positive note, because most of the time we interact with people it is not a positive note, this is a chance for us to get out on a positive note and interact with residents of the community.
"We want them to help us."
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