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DeWitt Police Chief talks cost, coverage of police service

DeWitt residents each year pay approximately $4 million (including fringe benefits) to keep their local police department running. Another $3 million is paid to the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department for its services. Police Chief Eugene Conway recently summarized the breakdown of costs and coverage between the two entities in a recent interview with the Eagle Bulletin.

According to 2009 data, Conway said the DeWitt Police Department answered and handled the bulk of 911 calls - 82 percent - for police services in the town of DeWitt. The sheriff's department picked up 16 percent while state police responded to 2 percent.

The town of DeWitt Police Department employs five clerks and 38 full-time police officers. On any given day, there are at least four patrol cars on the road, 24 hours, seven days a week. In addition, the local department provides numerous neighborhood, school and community programs.

In contrast, the sheriff's patrol coverage is significantly lower than DeWitt's. Also, because patrol cars are not exclusive to the town of DeWitt, response times suffer. Since DeWitt police never leave the town, they are able to respond to a 911 call in 2.4 minutes on average.

"We're very fortunate we can do [it] that quickly," said Conway, who worked 24 years with the sheriff's department. "That is something we're able to accomplish by being a local police department."

DPD services range from property checks to homicides. The department even has its own SWAT team.

"In DeWitt, I don't hesitate in saying that we consider ourselves to be a full service agency. We're able to handle almost anything that comes to us or that we respond to," Conway added.

The sheriff's department can provide a K-9 unit or helicopter upon request.

DeWitt has a population of about 24,000 and borders the city of Syracuse. It is the third largest police department behind the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department and the Syracuse Police Department.

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