PBA fights impending closure of dispatching desk at SP Boston

PBA fights impending closure of dispatching desk at SP Boston
PBA, 2003-01-27

Faced with the impending closure of the dispatching desk at SP Boston in Troop A, the PBA sent informational letters to elected officials in the town of Boston as well as the Senator, Assemblyman and Congressman representing the area. Once these elected officials received the letters, the Boston Town Board discussed the issue at their January 22 meeting and invited Troop A Delegate Jack Moretti to speak on the matter. The Town Board is strongly in favor of keeping the dispatching desk at SP Boston open and has made those feelings known to the Division of State Police. After the situation was made public, a representative of the Division of State Police stated that the plans to close the desk to the public were on hold "for the time being." A reporter from The Buffalo News wrote a story on the issue for the January 24 edition, which can be accessed by clicking on the following link: http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20030124/1047584.asp

In addition, below is the text of the letter sent by the PBA to elected officials about the situation.

We are writing to inform you of an impending situation that could adversely affect public safety in your community. The Division of State Police has plans to close the dispatching center at SP Boston, a change that has a number of negative implications. We fear that if this plan is acted upon, both the public and the Troopers who work out of that station will lose a valuable resource. However, with your help and attention to this matter, we may be able to halt those plans.

As representatives of the union that represents uniformed Troopers and their supervisors across New York state, we are concerned with the safety of you and your neighbors as well as the State Police members who go to work every day to serve and protect you and your neighbors.

According to the Division of State Police’s plans, the Troopers would continue to work from SP Boston, but there would no longer be a Trooper or a dispatcher sitting at the front desk. Without a dispatching center, the station will be empty for periods of time during the day and night. You will be able to use the automatic dial telephone (ADT) outside the station, but visitors using the ADT will need to wait for an indeterminate amount of time for a Trooper to be dispatched back to the station.

Having a Trooper available at the dispatching center at SP Boston is an essential service and an indispensable tool for local residents as well as travelers passing through the area. The lobby of the station is frequented by travelers asking for directions, seeking medical assistance, reporting car trouble, or even requesting the use of a telephone. The face-to-face contact with a Trooper is comforting and reassuring to individuals during times of stress.

On one recent snowy morning, more than 100 telephone calls were answered at SP Boston in a matter of a few hours. If the dispatching center was closed at SP Boston and those additional calls had to be routed through SP Clarence – which already dispatches for Troopers at that station, SP Newstead, SP Alden and the village of Akron Police Department – do you think those calls would receive the same type of attention?

The Troopers who answer the phone and sit at the front desk at SP Boston not only send Troopers from their station out to respond to your calls, but also dispatch calls for Troopers working at stations in Holland and Aurora.

If the dispatching desk is closed at SP Boston and all of the Troopers from that station are out on patrol, the telephone will be answered by a dispatcher at a State Police station 30 miles away in Clarence. If you’re calling for help, wouldn’t you rather speak to a Trooper who has patrolled in your community and is familiar with the uniqueness of the surroundings than an individual who might never have driven through the area?

In addition, with a renewed focus on the safety and well-being of Troopers responding to calls ranging from erratic motorists to domestic violence complaints, common sense dictates that Troopers on patrol who ask for assistance would rather have the calls answered at the dispatch center by another Trooper who has worked in the immediate area instead of someone who may not be familiar with that territory. It is obvious that this situation is not only a public safety concern, but also a State Police member safety concern.

Officials with the Division of State Police may claim that closing the dispatching center will place more Troopers on the road to patrol your community. That may be true temporarily, but history has shown that in situations like this the “extra” Troopers are soon lost to special assignments, promotions or transfers. For example, there were 16 Troopers assigned to SP Fredonia (Chautauqua County) when there was a dispatching center at that station. The Division of State Police decided to close the dispatching center, and the station now has 12 Troopers assigned to that station. On top of that, 3 of the 12 Troopers assigned to that station work on special details, meaning there is no guarantee they will be available for routine patrol. The departure of 4-7 Troopers following the closing of the dispatching center doesn’t add up to more patrols in a community.

The aforementioned examples are just a few of the reasons why closing the dispatching desk at SP Boston would not be in the best interest of the public. With this in mind, we are asking you to join our efforts to keep the dispatching center at the station open so that the members of the New York State Police may continue to provide you with the same high level of service.

To help, contact your local assembly member and senator and the office of the Superintendent of State Police. Their names, addresses and phone numbers are listed below. Resolutions of support passed at County Legislature or Town Board meetings and forwarded to both the PBA and these officials would also help tremendously.

If you would like to discuss this issue with us or if you have any questions, please contact us at the PBA at (518) 462-7448. Thank you for your time and assistance.