NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — North Tonawanda police officers are stepping up their fight to bring back 911 dispatch services.
The city’s dispatch unit moved to Lockport in 2012 to save money. Since then, police officers and others have been pushing to bring it back.
Without a local dispatch center, the North Tonawanda Police Benevolent Association (NTPBA) says it’s a matter of life or death.
“The NT police union 100 percent feels this is a life or death issue for the citizens of North Tonawanda. We can’t do our jobs the way the city needs us to if you’re handcuffing us by not giving us a reliable dispatch,” said Erik Herbert, spokesperson for NTPBA.
Herbert is one of 48 officers facing problems everyday without a local 911 dispatch. He says the biggest issue is slower response time.
“Response times have suffered up to 11 minutes, 16 minutes, 5 minutes,” said Herbert.
More than 700 people stand with the police union by showing support with yard signs in favor of bringing back dispatch services.
“If it were my family that had a problem I would want them to be here in a snap of a finger,” said Ron Dobiesz, North Tonawanda resident.
“I’m getting up in age too, I mean if I wake up with chest pains or something, who knows, I want them to get to me,” said Mark Ostroff, North Tonawanda resident.
The police union has tried negotiating with city and county leaders but, they say they’ve been ignored. Officers told News 4 they are even willing to give up their raises to pay for dispatcher’s salaries.
Herbert says he and his fellow officers will attend every council meeting from now through the November election until a resolution is made.
“The politicians know we got 500 signatures, they see 700 signs, but we’re not going to go away until they work with us,” said Herbert.
This week, NT Police officers will be going door to door to get signatures for their petition which will add to the 500+ signatures they’ve gathered from an online petition.