LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) — A public safety resource in Niagara County will no longer be available. The county dissolved the auxiliary police after failed efforts to compromise with volunteers about carrying firearms.
The unit has been around for several years. All members of the unit are volunteers. There’s about 12 to 25 volunteers with one duty, directing traffic during events.
Director of Emergency Services, Jonathan Schultz says the volunteers were concerned about their safety.
“Last summer it was brought to my attention the concerns for their safety since they weren’t carrying sidearms when they’re out doing different events for the county,” said Schultz.
Schultz say he looked into the matter with other agencies and ultimately decided they didn’t want the volunteers operating like law enforcement.
“They had training, but they are not law enforcement which is two completely different things, it’s black and white, it’s like comparing apples and oranges,” said Schultz.
The volunteers even had similar uniforms to police officers.
“They looked almost exactly like a police officer. You wouldn’t know the difference with them,” said Schultz.
Schultz told News 4 he called a meeting to move forward with the unit to continue their sole mission of directing traffic, but the volunteers didn’t show up.
Now the unit is disbanded. This means local police departments like Lewiston Police will now have to spend more money to make up for the dissolved unit.
“There will be a cost associated with it. We’ll still have officers that are going to be dedicated or tasked with patrol responsibility and crowd control and exits, it’s just going to be a little less than before,” said Chief Frank Previte, Lewiston Police Department.
Both Lewiston Police and Emergency Services say the auxiliary unit did great work and served as a second set of eyes and ears for police officers.
The unit did not respond to emergencies, only planned events.