Following an at-times contentious discussion on Tuesday night regarding Sag Harbor Village’s process in accepting bids for outside police protection—and the acknowledgement that some bids had been posted on an online police blog—Mayor Brian Gilbride OK’d the release of the proposals.
The Southampton Town Police Department, the last agency to respond to Sag Harbor’s request, offered the lowest bid, at $720,694. The Suffolk County sheriff’s office estimated it could police the village for $923,520, a figure that does not include fuel costs, while the East Hampton Town Police turned in a nearly $1.2 million proposal.
Southampton Town’s bid, received last Thursday, October 4, calls for one full-time patrol officer per shift and, in the summer, a seasonal patrol officer as well. It would create a new sector and use a new, fully equipped police car. Investigative and emergency services would be billed as needed.
The sheriff’s office offered two patrol units with one deputy sheriff in each per day and evening tours, and one car for midnight shifts from Sunday through Thursday and two cars for midnights on Friday and Saturday. Investigative and K-9 services, as well as Marine Patrol, would be billed as needed. East Hampton Town offered one officer assigned to just the East Hampton Town portion of Sag Harbor for three shifts per day.
On Wednesday morning, Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr., who also serves as a state assemblyman, said that none of the three bids was considered a leading contender at this point. The village will likely share all the bids with all three agencies and follow up with further discussion.
Mr. Gilbride has been considering slashing the size of the Sag Harbor force from 13 officers to about six. The village has already started drafting an early retirement incentive for eligible officers. He maintained his position that looking outward for protection is a potential cost-cutting option amid spiraling police costs.
While he repeated that his position was not a bargaining ploy—as the village and its police union are headed to arbitration over a contract dispute—he did say that if things improve and all the employees chip in toward their medical and retirement benefits, he may be able to bring back the whole force.
Former Sag Harbor Village Mayor Pierce Hance on Tuesday criticized the village for not being transparent enough through the process. Mr. Gilbride replied that he felt officials were being so open that releasing some bid numbers before all bids were received may have affected the process. He decided to release all the bids publicly after acknowledging some bids had already been posted on The Schwartz Report, a Long Island blog with a police forum.
Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Thomas Fabiano told the board he was “hurt” by the ongoing discussions and said he felt he was being kept largely out of the loop of what was going on.
The resignation of Officer Michael Gigante was accepted on Tuesday night. He took a job with the Northport Village Police, Mr. Thiele said later. According to the chief, Officer Gigante switched departments because he was unsure of his future with Sag Harbor. The village budgeted $113,811 for his total salary for 2012-2013.
Longtime resident Tom McErlean took issue with Sag Harbor’s search for outside protection, claiming it would not get the same level of service. Sag Harbor officers often respond more quickly to incidents in neighboring North Haven, he said, which is covered by the Southampton Town Police. He also claimed there was a “pattern of acrimony” dating back to the 1990s, which flares up whenever the police contract expires.