Police Retirements to Hit North Tonawanda Hard in 2019

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

A higher police presence will soon be in North Tonawanda as members of the Common Council gave the approval for Chief Roger Zgolak to hire at two new officers at last week’s meeting.

The demand for more police officers comes in the wake of three officers retiring in 2019. The first of which is set to happen in April. 

“I have started the process of doing background investigations,” said North Tonawanda Police Chief Roger Zgoliak, “contacting civil service for an eligible list to fill the vacancy created by the school resource officer position.”

The need to get the process going sooner rather than later is becuase Zgolak says the Niagara Police Academy is scheduled to begin March 11th. He says there will be some overlap in the beginning because they would be paying for the new officer and still paying the officer that is scheduled to retire in April but he says long term there would be a huge savings for North Tonawanda.

“Once that senior officer retires and you are paying only one wage,” said Zgolak. “I believe the City is still going to realize a savings in payroll of about $20,000.00 between the entry level position and the senior officer that is leaving.”

The Academy is a six-month program and the officer who starts in March would not graduate until September, which happens to be the same time the second retirement is set to take place. There is no guarantee the Niagara Academy will be having another program in September.

“If [the council] allow[s] me to do it, yes there is going to be some overtime during the summer months because there is a vacancy that will still be at the academy. But if I have to wait until the next academy after this one, and I do not know when that will be, I have the prospect of running short-handed at the end of 2019. Three officer retirements could create a burden,” said Zgolak.

For members of the Common Council the time is now to get the ball rolling, on this.

“I know the lead time to train them and we should do that sooner rather than later,” said Common Council President Eric Zadzilka.

After the academy ends in September there is still 18 weeks of field training that the rookie would still have to do through.

 

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