B U F F A L O N E W S
Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra says consolidating all the 911 systems across the county could save taxpayers more than $6 million each year.
Giambra offered his latest merger pitch Wednesday during a news conference at the Public Safety Center at Elm and South Division streets in downtown Buffalo.
Under his proposal, the building would become home to a centralized Erie County 911 system that would join all the towns, villages and cities across the county.
“By having all the dispatchers in one facility, it would be more efficient in saving lives and more efficient in saving money,” said Giambra. “It’s time to leave the Fred Flintstone era behind and enter the 21st century. This would also be putting $6 [million] to $12 million back into the pockets of local taxpayers.”
Giambra said letters were mailed out this week inviting all the municipalities to consolidate into one centralized Erie County 911 system.
The Erie County 911 system already consolidates three local systems operating on the third floor of the Public Safety Center — Buffalo Police/Erie County Central Police Services, Erie County Ambulance Dispatch and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
Two more systems are scheduled to join the 911 system in the coming months — the Buffalo Fire Department by early next year and the New York State Police by late December.
Giambra is hoping to merge the remaining 20 systems across the county — Amherst Police, Amherst Fire, Cheektowaga, Depew, East Aurora, Eden, Evans, Grand Island Fire, Town of Hamburg, Helmuth Fire, Kenmore, Lackawanna Police, Lackawanna Fire, Town of Lancaster, Orchard Park, Springville Fire, City of Tonawanda Fire, City of Tonawanda Police, Town of Tonawanda and West Seneca.
Kevin J. Comerford, commissioner of central police services, pointed to other cities to show how much more efficient the county’s 911 systems could be. For example, he said, Rochester’s Monroe County has 10 police agencies and one public safety answering point, while Albany County has 11 police agencies and eight answering points.
In Erie County, anyone who calls 911 from a cell phone is already sent directly to Erie County 911 and then transferred to their respective municipality. About 60 percent of 911 calls are made from cell phones.