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Sag Harbor Village Trustees Reveal Outside Policing Proposals After Contentious Village Board Meeting

Posted on 10 October 2012

By Kathryn G. Menu

A contentious Sag Harbor Village Board meeting on Tuesday night over the fate of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department ended with Mayor Brian Gilbride and the village board agreeing to release three proposals for outside police service to the public.

At least one of those preliminary proposals had already been posted in it entirety on an online police blog, the Schwartz Report — a move Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said may have tainted a proposal from one of the other departments.

Prior to late Tuesday night, after the village board emerged from an executive session, those documents were protected, according to Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

Of the three proposals, Southampton Town Police Department offered the lowest bid, although on Wednesday morning Mayor Gilbride said it was nowhere near the level of service he originally requested from Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson.

Under that $720,694.90 proposal, Southampton Town Police Department proposes to create a new sector to cover Sag Harbor and would offer the village one full-time patrol officer per shift — midnight, day, afternoon — with the addition of a seasonal patrol officer during the summer season (May through September). Special services including the Emergency Service Team and Investigative Unit would be billed on an “as needed” basis and the town would plan on having one fully equipped police vehicle in Sag Harbor. Part-time officers and traffic control officers would use vehicles currently in town’s fleet.

The village received that proposal just last week, on October 4.

The second lowest bid was from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and was delivered to the village on September 11.

In that bid, the Suffolk County Sherriff’s Office estimates the agency could provide police services to Sag Harbor for $923,520 per year. The proposal offers Sag Harbor two patrol units for the day and afternoon shift, with the midnight shift covered by one patrol unit Sunday through Thursday and two patrol units Friday and Saturday.

In addition to personnel costs, for fuel the sheriff’s office suggest either allowing their officers to use the village’s fueling station and budget line or allowing the sheriff’s office to bill back the village on a per gallon basis. Currently that per gallon rate is $3.16.

Investigative services, K-9 services and marine patrol could also be included on an as needed basis.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker, Jr. submitted his department’s proposal on August 15, and estimates the town could provide police services at a cost of $1,170,200, which would include one sergeant, five officers, two seasonal traffic control officers, school crossing guards and monies for overtime, uniforms and cleaning, detective services, dispatch and clerical services as well as two vehicles, their maintenance and gas.

The cost of the current, 12 officer police department in Sag Harbor Village is upwards of $2 million.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the village will host a work session before the board of trustees’ November 13 meeting to talk about the different proposals in a public forum.

After reaching an impasse with the Sag Harbor Village Police in contract negotiations late this spring, Gilbride — with the support of the village board — reached out to the county and towns for proposals for police services in Sag Harbor.

Officers in the Sag Harbor Village Police Department have been working without a contract for about 14 months. This summer, the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) filed for interest arbitration.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, former mayor Pierce Hance was critical of what he said was the board’s failure to be transparent in the discussion about the future of the police force.

Mayor Gilbride said he believes the process has been open, and charged more open than in the 1990s, when Hance was mayor and tussled with the police department over the number of officers it employed.

Ultimately, Mayor Gilbride said the discussion comes down to cost and at a cost of over $2 million and growing with each contract, he does not believe the village can continue to afford the police department.

However, said Mayor Gilbride, the village should not disband the department, but rather cut it in half with the remaining police services covered by another agency.

Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano said he was “hurt” that the village board did not share the police proposals with him to see if they were even viable.

Chief Fabiano said he believes the level of police services will suffer if these kinds of cuts are made, adding the discussion is already affecting his department. On Tuesday night, the village board accepted the resignation of officer Michael Gigante.

Resident Jeff Peters wondered if the idea should not be put to village residents for a vote before negotiations move forward.

Trustee Robby Stein said at this point the village board is simply fact finding.

“I don’t think there is an intention of secrecy,” he said.

“As a taxpayer, I applaud you for looking at all your options,” said resident John Parker.

Resident Tom McErlean said he was very concerned about the loss of service the village would have if it looked outside for police coverage.

“They are not going to talk to kids about drugs, or wait for people to speed through the school speed zones,” he said.

“What has been made clear to me is we are getting priced out of policing,” said Mayor Gilbride. “And its not just here, it is in every community.”

“They really care,” said McErlean. “You can’t put a price tag on that.”

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5 Responses to “Sag Harbor Village Trustees Reveal Outside Policing Proposals After Contentious Village Board Meeting”

  1. tax payer says:

    So our town gets bigger with bigger problems, our kids do bigger drugs, drink more, traffic this summer was god awful and you want less protection! Wow what is this town coming to? You should be increasing the security not decreasing it, and for years, and you know this Brian it has been a comfort to know your fellow officers patrolling our streets, shame on you!Shame on this board! All of you go back to the table and figure this out!

  2. PECONIC CTY NOW says:

    I am confused, maybe someone can shed some light on this , after floundering around the web for an hour trying to find “Schwartz report”, I read that the Sheriffs proposed 923,000.00 , which looks to me like a full time year round manning of the Village of Sag. But in past the board has said the plan isnt to disband the dept. so is this the figure or is there another proposal looming out there that the board is not releasing. I agree the unions 4.5 % raise is a dream in todays economy, and an increase in sick days is also a far reach, the two need to sit back down and speak of wages that meet the economy. I do not live in Sag but my parents do and have needed the police and ambulance in the past ( during an overnite) and both their responses were within minutes , do the village people really want to give this up..lets report on the real numbers that the board wants to implement , is it 923,000 and then add on keeping some of the officers we have now , someone do the math . What are the real savings here?

  3. It seems that police service remains frozen in 1959 while the population on the east end and it accompanying problems have exploded. Although to some on the east end it appears to be “Ground Hogs Day” and Mayberry days are gone on the east end. Former County Executive Steve Levy in an ego motivated decision replaced the Suffolk County Police Highway Patrol,where they performed exceptionally for 50 years, and replaced them with the Sheriff Department which east end taxpayers funded but didn’t receive their services. Prior to this move the funds for the SCPD came from the 5 west end towns which they served. Inadequate manpower led to Bench Warrants being ignored and the NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law ignored or rarely enforced! Why is it that police costs in some east end jurisdictions account for 30+% of the entire operating budget whereas the County Police accounts for only 2-3% (Legislative Budget Office)? Although the east departments work miracles with the little resources afforded them its time to have one centralized PD under one head. Peconic County? Who would pay for it? Suffolk County does not end at the Brookhaven Town line how is it that the Suffolk County Public Works can plow snow and maintain County roads within the confines of east end towns yet the County Police are prohibited even though case law has stated that the geographical area of employment for the County PD is the entire County. Some want to maintain their fiefdoms at the expense of the paying public.

  4. Time To Compromise says:

    Sag Harbor PBA loose the ego’s, as well as village board members and hammer out an agreement. Be real about the reality of the economy, and look at the hard numbers and figure it out. what is going on in Sag Harbor is a mirror of what is going on with our country. Be real with the numbers, and be real about the future of the village. Population has increased, and we can not afford to skimp on police services.
    Police representation is important to the fabric of a town. I would hope they would open up this discussion to a village town hall meeting inviting all the parties represented and allow the village members to ask the questions. In the End, it should be voted on by the village citizens weather to disband the SH police force or not.

  5. Raise my taxes.... says:

    Raise my taxes and give the cops whatever they need. Take a look at the raises that the SCPD hammered out for themselves. When the economy is bad, so is crime. I would rather be safe than sorry and willing to pay for it.

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