RAY BROOK - State police Troop B emergency dispatchers are continuing their plan to relocate to the Essex County Public Safety Building in Lewis.
Kristin Lowman, a state police public information officer based in Albany, said the move is a consolidation, involving moving staff and functions of the state police communications operation to the Essex County building. The state police have been "consolidating communication control points" in each of the nine patrol troops in the state for the past several years, she said. Several years ago, the state police closed their communication center in Malone, and dispatchers relocated to other posts.
"We are still in the planning stages, and no date has been set for the move," Lowman wrote by email. "We will continue to coordinate with county officials before proceeding."
An example of another patrol troop that has already consolidated their dispatchers completely is Troop G headquarters in Latham. Troop G currently dispatches for 10 counties in New York's Capital Region.
There are no plans to lay off dispatchers as part of the consolidation, according to state police. Nevertheless, the move is expected to save state police money.
"The primary objective is to improve efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining the same or improved levels of service," Lowman wrote.
The dispatch room in Lewis at the Essex County Public Safety building serves as the county's communication command post. It is already in use by Essex County dispatchers, managed by county Director of Public Safety Don Jaquish.
State police has a presence in the building, leasing space. There will be no additional cost by moving there, according to Lowman. Randy Douglas chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors said the state police lease the space for $12,000 a month and have been paying since 2007. They will move into space they weren't fully utilizing. Douglas added that the county did not lobby state police to consolidate here.
The state police are also partners with Essex County on the $17 million project to improve the 911 radio system, as is New York State Electric and Gas, a private utility company. The new microwave radio project is expected to be finished by late fall. Once the upgraded radio system is completed, the state police will have their own radio frequencies on the new system.
The state police said the new microwave radio system is not the reason for relocating the dispatchers there.
"Although the microwave project will increase capabilities for radio communications throughout the Adirondack Region, it is not the justification for the move," Lowman wrote.
In Canton, the state police currently lease space in the St. Lawrence County Emergency Services building, but the state police dispatchers there will be part of the move to Lewis. The St. Lawrence county dispatch center also is the home of county dispatchers and the sheriff's department.
Alex MacKinnon, a board member of the St. Lawrence County Legislature representing the southern end of the county, said some people there have concerns about how the dispatcher move could affect coverage.
"In rural St. Lawrence County, we've got a lot of back roads and areas, places that are remote," MacKinnon said. "And when you have dispatchers that have lived in the area their whole lives, they know the area they're covering. That's one of the things people felt would be lost with the dispatchers living so far away."
However, MacKinnon said, with modern GPS systems, maybe that shouldn't be a major concern.
"I don't think either way it's the end of the world," he said. "It's not going to make so much of a difference to St. Lawrence County."
Troop B oversees Essex, Clinton, Franklin, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties. The Troop B coverage area is broken down into three zones. The area around the Plattsburgh and Malone barracks is Zone 1, the area around Canton and Gouvenour is Zone 2, and the area around the Ray Brook and Ticonderoga bases encompasses Zone 3.