911 consolidation could put more officers on Utica streets


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Oneida County Executive says there is a way for Utica to compensate for the seven police officers that may be cut due in the budget.
County Executive Anthony Picente says consolidating 911 call centers would put six additional police officers on the streets, as well as one firefighter.

The Utica call center is manned by six officers and one firefighter.  Picente says if the consolidation is finalized, civilians could man the call center, allowing for the police to go back on the streets.      

According to Picente consolidating the Oneida County, New Hartford and Utica call centers would save the Town of New Hartford roughly $750,000.

The New Hartford Town Board has already passed a resolution to go ahead with the consolidation.  Picente says Oneida County will do the same by next Wednesday.  Now he's asking the Utica Common Council to follow in those same footprints.

Council President Bill Morehouse says if the council gets assurances that there will be no reduction in services, he believes they will move forward with the proposal.
The county is applying for a $600,000 grant to help the process.  However, Picente says it will still take time.  He speculates that if all parties are on board, New Hartford would join by the end of the year.  Next would be the Utica fire Department, but that wouldn't be until next April. Only after that would the Utica Police Department be mixed in.   
While the benefits are clear for New Hartford and Utica, the picture become somewhat cloudy for the county.  The county would actually have to spend $300,000-$500,000 per year for the call center.  But Picente says they would look to make up for that with a new cell phone surcharge.


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