After a resolution to purchase $275,000 in video arraignment equipment was defeated by the Southampton Town Board on December 8, the measure was reintroduced and approved this Tuesday. Previously, councilwoman and supervisor-elect Anna Throne-Holst joined with councilman Chris Nuzzi in voting down a measure to bond, or take out a loan, to finance the project which needed four votes of support to move forward.
Two weeks later, Throne-Holst appeared to be on board with the idea and voted along with the supervisor and her fellow councilwomen in favor of issuing $275,000 in bonds to purchase the equipment. The video system is expected to be installed into the new Southampton Town Justice Court located in Hampton Bays. The town justice courts are expected to be operational out of the new facilities by January of next year.
At a previous work session in late October, the town justices strongly lobbied for purchase of the equipment. Although the initial costs for the project are substantial, Judge Deborah Kooperstein argued the measure would save money for local municipalities, especially for Sag Harbor Village Police, in the long run.
Because Sag Harbor Village doesn’t have a justice court system of its own, village officers must accompany defendants to and from the Southampton Town Justice Court for proceedings and the travel time encumbered by these trips cuts into officers’ work shifts. The situation is an expense to the village in more ways than one. The village must pay overtime for the officers chaperoning the defendants and also cover the transportation costs. With the move to the Hampton Bays facility pending, the relocation will exacerbate these costs for the village.
With a video arraignment system, a defendant could be held in a holding area in Sag Harbor with a television hooked up to a live-feed connected to a monitor in the town’s court, thus the defendant and the Sag Harbor Village Officer wouldn’t be required to leave the village.