ORCHARD PARK, NY - Two local police departments are now awaiting state approval to create a new SWAT team. Board members in both East Aurora and Orchard Park are in agreement with police that an extra layer of security is needed.
On Wednesday night, Orchard Park town board members approved the new team. Two members voted in approval, while one member was absent.
On Tuesday night, the East Aurora village board approved it as well.
There are ten SWAT members in Orchard Park. The plan would be to use the grant to train three officers in East Aurora and combine all officers to create a 13-member SWAT Team. The funds from the grant would go to training and equipping the officers.
"Unfortunately, you're seeing less of the routine type incidents where youths are about. We are seeing an increase in some of the more severe crimes," said Orchard Park police chief Mark Pacholec.
The squad's jurisdiction would include East Aurora, Orchard Park and the Town of Aurora.
One of the big questions many residents in East Aurora and Orchard Park have been asking themselves is whether the new squad is needed. Orchard Park police already has a SWAT Team that also takes care of East Aurora. And residents there tell us they feel safe.
"Our SWAT are used and it varies, it runs in spurts we've been used twice in the last 90 days, once was a call out in East Aurora, the other was a barricaded subject on the south end of town," said Pacholec.
Chief Pacholec adds that police calls have been increasing in volume. He says last year there were 26,000 total calls to the department. About 15 years ago, that number was way down around 10,000.
According to police, the grant is worth about $260,000. The grant allows municipalities to combine operations and this combination is the best way that officials say they could use the funds and save taxpayers.