Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Police Department"

Detective Jeffrey Proctor

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A conversation with Det. Jeff Proctor of the Sag Harbor Police Department who was recently honored by the Southampton Kiwanis Club as the department’s Officer of the Year.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Congratulations on being named the Officer of the Year. Was there one particular case for which you were honored?

Over the course of the year, there were many felony investigations that were solved. One of them involved counterfeit $100 bills; another involved a grand larceny of $48,000; and another involved a string of burglaries last summer.

I’m very proud because it was the fourth time I was honored, once as a police officer and three times as a detective.

Have you always been a police officer?

No, believe it or not, before I became a cop, I owned a deli in Mastic. I enjoyed it. I’m a people person, and I enjoyed talking to people and hearing about their problems. It was a bit like being a bartender. In 1998, I took the police test because my father, who is a retired New York civil servant, made me. And I was looking for something with a little more security. I took it with some friends, but I was the only one who got a good enough grade to become a cop.

My first job was with Westhampton Beach. I did a lot of foot patrols on Main Street. And then I was assigned to the marine patrol and did that from 2000 to 2001. Then an opportunity arose here and I was in the mood for a change. I was hired here in June 2001. I started as a regular office and then in 2008 was promoted to detective.

When I got here in 2001, I was assigned as the DARE [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] officer. I enjoyed that very much, working with the sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

I love the community I work in. I wish I could afford to live here. It’s a great community—the school district is fantastic. It reminds me of watching the Andy Griffiths Show. I enjoy coming to work. I enjoy the people I work with.

Usually we associate detectives as wearing suits, and hear you are in uniform. How are your duties different in a small department like Sag Harbor?

Being a detective here is unique because you wear so many different hats. I write vehicle and traffic summons, I respond to aided cases and quality-of-life issues, and I’ll even be seen walking the beat on Main Street in the summer months.

You become a detective at the discretion of the chief of police based on your reports and interviewing skills. He recommends you to the BCI [Bureau of Criminal Intelligence] at the Suffolk Police Academy and you go through training there.

How have things changed in Sag Harbor from the prospective of law enforcement since you have been with the force?

When the economy was booming, there was a lot less crime. With the economy not so good and construction at a bit of a standstill, crimes like burglaries and larcenies are on the rise.

There’s also a situation with drugs on the rise, including heroin. Over the past few years kids have gotten into their parents’ medicine cabinets and been taking out the pain pills. Doctors are now leery about issuing prescriptions, so the pills are not as easy to come by. So instead of buying one Oxycontin pill for 20 bucks, they’ll get a bag of heroin for five bucks. Unfortunately they are going to get hooked.

I’d say that 90 percent of the crimes I’m confronted with involve drugs in some way—the criminal is a drug user. Just about everybody who comes through this door is a drug user. To me jail is not always the answer. You need to look at treatment.

We’re shorthanded right now, so we’ve become more of a reactive department as opposed to a proactive department.  You used to see officers patrolling Main Street.

There are also fewer DWIs. People are getting smarter and taking taxis and there’s also the fact that with less staffing, we can’t be on constant patrol like we used to. We used to be able to sit on Long Wharf and just watch people pour themselves out of the bar and into their car.

Tentative Sag Harbor Village Budget Stays Under Tax Cap, Cuts a Cop

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Last Wednesday, March 20, the Sag Harbor Village Board presented its tentative budget of $8,263,381 — a spending plan that falls under the state mandated two percent tax cap, but reduces the police force by eliminating one officer through attrition and another through layoffs.

The budget also proposes not replacing a laborer position in the department of public works.

The tentative 2013-2014 budget represents a 2.57 percent increase over this year’s $8.06 million budget. Treasurer Eileen Tuohy said state mandated tax levy cap for Sag Harbor is 4.1 percent.

According to Mayor Brian Gilbride, the village will use $65,000 of $1 million in reserves to offset the tax increase.

According to a budget worksheet, a house assessed at $795,000 would pay $2,220.44 in village property taxes, compared with $2,165.58 last year.

Gilbride and trustee Ed Gregory both noted a majority of the spending increases are directly linked to rises in health care costs and retirement benefits.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano sharply criticized cuts to his department via a letter read by trustee Kevin Duchemin, the board’s liaison to the department.

Chief Fabiano said he was only informed of the decision to layoff one of his officers at the last budget work session.

“I would like you all to know this officer will be David Driscoll,” said Fabiano, noting the two-year member of the department was named its officer of the year due to his work with the East End DWI Task Force and commitment to child safety programming.

Driscoll would be the second member of the force the chief would lose in the last year. Officer Michael Gigante left the force last year to work with another department amid what has become a contentious contract negotiation between the village and the police benevolent association (PBA).

If Driscoll’s position on the force is removed, that will leave the Sag Harbor Village Police Department with 10 officers and a chief.

“I am asking the board to keep this position in the budget as it is vital to the department’s staffing and scheduling needs,” writes the chief, noting two state studies have shown the department is already understaffed.

PBA President Patrick Milazzo said he would like to see if a committee could come up with alternatives to a flat layoff.

Gregory said before they can talk about saving the position they have to know what it will ultimately cost and that figure won’t be available until arbitration was settled.

Gilbride asked if the PBA would agree to a zero percent salary increase for three years in order to save the position.

“We are not going to talk about the contract publicly,” said Milazzo.

“Am I interested in saving Dave’s job? I would love to save Dave’s job,” said board member Robby Stein, but he added with the department taking 40 percent of the budget, retirement is increasing each year and there are other projects residents want funded outside of police services.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on April 3 at 4 p.m.

Sag Harbor PBA Files for Arbitration; Village Looks Towards Towns

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Officers with the Sag Harbor Police Department have been working without a contract for over a year now.

And it appears likely that is not going to change any time soon.

After fruitless mediation talks were held between the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Village of Sag Harbor on June 26, this week PBA president Patrick Milazzo said the association has filed for arbitration — a binding contract negotiation handled by a third party.

At the same time, at the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, trustee Tim Culver said it was time for the village to lay all of its options on the table and reach out to both East Hampton and Southampton towns to see what the cost would be for their police departments to service Sag Harbor Village.

“We are in a unique position,” said Culver. “This is not a comment on the quality of the police department, but a question of dollars and cents and if an arbiter comes back with a number we cannot afford, we cannot afford it.”

“It’s the single largest line item in the budget,” added Culver. “They do a great job. The question is, can we afford it?”

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride noted a state mandated two-percent cap on any increases to the property tax levy binds the village in terms of what it is able to spend.

“We don’t have any wiggle room,” he said.

“I think it is a great idea,” said Milazzo on Wednesday morning. “I think the village should absolutely look into what the cost is to provide police services. They will have to consider what they will be getting in terms of service, but this is a suggestion I made months ago.”

Milazzo said without a significant reduction in the kind of police services currently offered, he doubted the village could find a more affordable police force, noting Sag Harbor Village operates one of the most cost effective village police departments on the East End.

“So how they will be able to achieve cost savings with a more expensive labor pool, I don’t know, unless they are willing to reduce services,” said Milazzo. “How you would police one municipality with two police departments is another thing I am not sure of.”

Milazzo said the Sag Harbor PBA originally asked for a contract that included a 4.5-percent increase — similar to the raise they were given in 2006.

“It was an aggressive proposal,” said Milazzo, noting it was a wage increase presented by the PBA’s attorney and not one he came up with on his own. “No one is expecting a 4.5-percent wage increase.”

Milazzo said ultimately the increase the department hopes for will largely be based on other terms of the contract including requests for increases in sick days, a death benefit clause and how much officers in the future will be asked to pay into their health care benefits.

At the mediation table, the village offered a zero percent increase in wages for 2011, a one-percent increase for 2012 and a two-percent increase for 2013. New officers would be required to pay 25-percent of their medical insurance costs and current officers would be required to pay half of any increase in premium prices for insurance.

The PBA did not accept the offer.

According to Milazzo, it could likely be January 2013 before the PBA and the village formally meets with the arbiter for the first time. Once a contract is worked out, he noted, the PBA and the village will be right back at the negotiation table looking at the next police contract.