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Oct 2, 2012 6:28 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sag Harbor Presses Forward With Plan To Trim Police Force, Contract With Sheriff's Office

Oct 2, 2012 6:28 PM

Sag Harbor continues to inch forward with plans that could halve the size of its police force and bring in an outside law enforcement agency to fill the gap.

While Mayor Brian Gilbride said this week that it was “highly likely” that the village would enter into a contract with an outside agency and that he would be surprised if it did not happen, nothing is yet written in stone.

Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. noted on Tuesday that, despite the Village Board’s latest strides in that direction, it still has yet to decide whether to actually go through with the idea.

Things are moving swiftly, however.

“My sense of it from listening to the discussions is that it’s a decision they want to make in weeks, not months,” Mr. Thiele said. “First of all, whether to do it at all, then which to do it with.”

The issue of contracting with an outside police force arose in July when contract negotiations between the village and the Sag Harbor Village Patrolman’s Benevolent Association reached an impasse. The union has been working without a contract since June 2011.

At a special meeting on Friday, September 21, the Village Board cast two votes in favor of proceeding with the plan, billed as a cost-saving measure that officials estimated could save the village as much as $600,000 per year.

At the same meeting, according to Mr. Thiele, the board also named the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office as the leading candidate for such a contract—an announcement made despite one candidate, Southampton Town, not having yet submitted a proposal. The sheriff’s office has estimated it could provide year-round police protection in Sag Harbor for $923,000. The village currently spends more than $2 million on its annual police budget.

The sheriff’s office bid was lower than one provided by East Hampton Town, but Mr. Gilbride declined to say by how much.

Board members voted, 4-0, to authorize Vincent Toomey, the village labor attorney, to draft a retirement incentive for eligible police officers that would offer about $1,000 for each year of service if they retired now, Mr. Thiele said.

The department has 13 officers including a chief. About four would be eligible for retirement, Mr. Thiele said. If the village enters into a contract with an outside agency, the force size could be slashed in half.

Board members also voted, 3-1, to authorize Mr. Toomey and Mr. Thiele to start writing an inter-municipal agreement. Mr. Gilbride and trustees Ed Gregory and Robby Stein voted in favor, while Trustee Kevin Duchemin, cast the lone dissenting voice. Mr. Duchemin, a police sergeant in East Hampton Village, has been a holdout on this issue, saying he favors keeping the force in its current form and continuing contract negotiations with its 12-member union. The village and union are headed for arbitration following a contract dispute that has lasted more than a year.

Although the Southampton Town Police Department has not yet responded to a bid request, it has not been ruled out if it does submit one, village officials said.

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The Sheriff's doing police services in Sag Harbor?? So now your going to have some Sag Harbor PD and some Sheriffs doing police work in the village, that makes absolutely no sense.....Mayor Gilbride as a politician is going to jeopardize the safety of the village, keep Sag Harbor PD, go to arbitration or settle a fair contract ASAP.....Stop farming out Police Services to someone from up the island who has never even seen Sag Harbor and doesn't have a vested concern in it.
By mrobin (120), North Sea on Oct 2, 12 6:47 PM
I think it's a great idea. Sag harbor is a funny village, it always seems like the local drunks and general miscreants are turned a blind eye to by the local cops they grew up with. It will be interesting to see what happens if that good old local thing is taken away.
By bubby (236), southampton on Oct 6, 12 9:11 PM
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