It started with “Jesse, Time to Go” signs, posted illegally overnight around town. Next, it was fake “polling” calls asking if we supported dissolving the Southampton Village Police Department.
Now we see these melodramatic “Save Our Police” signs around town. We should all ask why the PBA leadership is sinking to new lows in dirty politics while deliberately misleading us.
Let me be crystal clear: No one is trying to disband or defund the police department. Mayor Jesse Warren has never even suggested that. It is a complete fabrication invented by the PBA leadership to smear the mayor simply because he is trying to do his job and improve the village, including the police department.
It is the same lie my opponents spread about me when I ran for trustee, and is just as wrong now as it was then.
I have family and friends who are police officers, and I clearly understand the sacrifices they make — I would never disband our police. I do, however, want to see our Village Police be the best they can be. For that to happen, clear improvements need to be made.
The Hartnett Report, published Friday, makes it clear that waste, nepotism and mismanagement are prevalent. So, while I have a great admiration for most of the individual officers, the report makes it clear that the department has been severely mismanaged on several levels — and that has to change. That’s all we want to do: improve our department and make our village even safer.
The PBA and department leadership do not want that to happen, however, because it would mean less abuse of overtime policies, no off-duty work here in the village, and an end to using patrol cars and uniforms off-duty. There is no defense for these practices, so they’re doing the only thing they can — lying about it and smearing anyone who tells you the truth, hoping Mayor Warren will lose the upcoming election. Then they can continue undeterred under former Mayor Michael Irving, who signed the ridiculous and completely one-sided six-year extension of the PBA contract in the first place. And that would only make our village less safe by allowing the mismanagement to continue.
I would encourage everyone to read the report, which is posted on the village website. It will be clear who is telling the truth and who is deliberately misleading and manipulating us.
No one wants to disband the police. Some of us, however, do want to improve the department and are taking steps to do so. On Election Day, we should remember who is looking out for the best interests of the village — and who is trying to protect their own self-interests by misleading us.
Gina S. Arresta
Ms. Arresta is a member of the Southampton Village Board — Ed.
One fine body…