OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - How fast can it go? How much would it cost? Those are the questions swirling around Ogdensburg’s move to turn police dispatching over to St. Lawrence County.
Both sides say it’s their goal to put the county’s 911 dispatch center in direct radio contact with Ogdensburg patrol officers. But there are obstacles.
“The big issues are equipment, personnel and how that’s going to be handled, and how it’s going to be paid for,” said
Joseph Lightfoot, St. Lawrence County Legislature chairman:
The county points out it would need four new dispatchers, a new computer station, and significant upgrades to equipment. It hasn’t put a price tag on it yet.
“There are a lot of hurdles that we’ve got to go over in order to do it,” said Lightfoot.
Ogdensburg city officials point out the county gets a share of a 911 surcharge on phone bills. They say Ogdensburg residents pay that and should benefit from it. They say residents shouldn’t have to pay anymore for dispatching service.
“By and large it is a special tax specifically for that purpose,” said Stephen Jellie, Ogdensburg city manager.
But county officials point out the state only shares about $110,000 of that surcharge with the county. City officials point out a state restructuring board recommended the county takeover of dispatching and offered an incentive.
“They have pledged $300,000 without even seeing what our plan is. So I do believe going back to them, showing them what our consolidation plan is, showing what the financing would be could be a source of greater funding than the $300,000,” said Jellie.
At its last meeting, Ogdensburg City Council passed a resolution calling for the transfer of dispatching by January 1. County officials say that deadline is just not possible.
If it happens, Ogdensburg will be the first large municipal police department in the county to consolidate 911 dispatch with the county.
Currently, the Norfolk and Norwood police departments are the only municipal police departments that are part of the county dispatch system. Larger police departments like Massena and Potsdam do their own.