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Four local police departments to receive public protection dollars

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Four local police departments are receiving state public protection funds that had been approved for each agency years ago but had never been delivered.

Receiving funds are the police departments for the City of Tonawanda, Town of Evans, Village of Hamburg and Town of Hamburg. The police chief for each municipality was handed a ceremonial check for $15,625.

State Senator Chris Jacobs explained that after taking office earlier this year, his staff began looking through older state grant records to determine whether Albany was making good on promised grants. Through their research, Jacobs explained, it was determined that dollars awarded to the four agencies through grants were never paid.

He would not point fingers but Jacobs says grants of that size often get lost in the shuffle in Albany.

"I hear this all the time from my colleagues of dollars not getting where they are," he said. "Unless we achieve that goal of delivering that money, you can put a government in a real detrimental position, because they may be taking on obligations with the assumption that money comes and money hasn't arrived."

Town of Hamburg Police Chief Gregory Wickett spoke of the relief brought by the delivery of overdue dollars and his plan for them.

"Every year I put in a budget request of x amount of dollars and, of course, the town has limits on what they can spend," Wickett said. "This funding will allow us to buy an additional patrol vehicle to add to our fleet, to enhance the safety of our officers, to drive a quality vehicle."

The City of Tonawanda intends to purchase new radios for patrol cars and portable radios for officers. The Village of Hamburg plans to buy new license plate readers. The Town of Evans will spend its grant on computer and communication equipment.

Jacobs says his staff continues to check old state records to see if other police departments are owed back payments.

"I'm not sure this is the end of funds that were committed, awarded but the funds never delivered," Jacobs said. "We're continuing to work on this project."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.