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Erie County to Study Policing Strategy

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A showdown over fees for Erie County road patrols has been called off - at least for one year. Erie County Executive Joel Giambra Thursday announced that a commission will be formed to study a possible merger of police agencies.

Giambra was joined by supervisors from several municipalities in making the announcement. It's the first comprehensive look in 30 years at a possible merger.

The issue of whether or not towns without their own police agengies should have to pay for county sheriff's patrols has pitted municipalities against one another. It's estimated that it costs the region about $400 million totally for police services.

Over the next year, Giambra said the commission will look at all possibilities - from centralized to non-centralized police services.

For now, he said that means the county will not charge municipalities for county road patrols.

The commission will include Giambra, Sheriff Tim Howard, police services commissioner, Kevin Commerford, legislator Dan Kozub and four town supervisors, yet to be announced - two with independent police departments and two without.

Amherst Town Supervisor Satish Mohan is willing to talk.

Grand Island Supervisor Peter McMann has loudly protested any changes in the current system or any added fees for road patrols. But he too said he will listen.

That may prove difficult.

The mayor of city of Buffalo, at least for now, is opting out of the study. Varying police contracts, the county fiscal stability authority, and how any changes would be approved or implemented are only some of the hurdles.

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