State Troopers PBA seeks support in its efforts to keep dispatching desk open
Fearing that the impending closure of the dispatching desk at SP Westport (Troop B) in Essex County could adversely affect public safety, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, Inc. is urging area residents and elected officials to join in the effort to halt those plans. The Division of State Police has made it known that it plans to close the dispatching desk, and the PBA wants to stop that in the interest of the safety of area residents and the safety of the Troopers entrusted to protect the residents.
The situation and its negative consequences are fully explained in a letter to elected officials, a copy of which follows this news release. These letters have been sent to Sen. Ronald Stafford, Assemblywoman Elizabeth Little, Assemblyman Chris Ortloff, each member of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, council members in each town in Essex County and other local elected officials.
To join the PBA’s efforts to keep the dispatching desk at SP Westport open, the PBA is asking community members to contact their local and state elected officials as well as the office of the Superintendent of State Police and voice their support.
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 Westport, 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 these plans.
As representatives of the union that represents uniformed Troopers across New York state, we are concerned with the safety of you and your neighbors as well as the Troopers 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 Westport, but there would no longer be a Trooper sitting at the front desk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Without a dispatching center, the station will be empty for periods of time during the day and night. There will be an 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 Westport 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 day, the Troopers counted the number of phone calls and walk-in cases that were handled at the station from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. More than 110 calls were answered during that eight-hour period. If the dispatching center was closed at SP Westport and those additional calls had to be routed through SP Ray Brook – which already dispatches for Troopers at that station, SP Indian Lake, SP Tupper Lake, SP Wilmington and for the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid police departments – do you think those 110 calls would receive the same type of attention?
The Troopers who answer the phone and sit at the front desk at SP Westport not only send Troopers from their station out to respond to your calls, but also dispatch calls for Troopers working at stations in Schroon Lake and Crown Point and for police officers with the Moriah Police Department.
If the dispatching desk is closed at SP Westport 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 35 miles away in Ray Brook. 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.
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, located in the western part of the state, 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. The relocation of 4 Troopers 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 Westport 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. Resolutions of support passed at County Board of Supervisors 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 have any questions, please feel free to contact us at the PBA office at (518) 462-7448. Thank you for your time and assistance.
Daniel M. De Federicis, PBA President
James C. Monty, Troop B Delegate