As summer visitors enter Southampton Village, one of the safest, most prosperous and beautiful residential places in the world, they are greeted by foreboding “Save Our Police: Southampton in Crisis” lawn signs. Nice welcome.
The implication of these ominous lawn signs is: Watch out! There is danger around you. Someone is trying to destroy our police, and they need you to save them.
Save the police from what? No one is proposing dissolving the Southampton Village Police Department, and there is certainly no crisis.
So, why the lawn signs? It turns out that, thanks to this mayoral campaign, we have learned that the Southampton Village Police Department budget represents 45 percent of the village’s total operating budget. Does the police department operate efficiently? That would seem a fair question to ask.
These dandelion-like lawn signs are in response to the village trustees engaging Edmund Hartnett, a former NYPD deputy chief and police commissioner of Yonkers, to review the SVPD and make recommendations on how the police department could operate more effectively and efficiently. The report is on the village’s website for all to read. To find it quickly, search “Hartnett” in the search bar.
Some of Mr. Hartnett’s findings should be implemented, some perhaps not, but none justifies the “cry wolf” reaction reflected in the lawn signs.
As civic-minded citizens, we should not tolerate the posting of scary signs in the village — other than perhaps on Halloween — nor the sending of anonymous letters warning of a coming apocalypse. For the first time in decades, the village trustees dared to exercise their oversight responsibility over the police. It’s not a crisis, it’s good government.
There are real issues that reasonable people can discuss and debate, but hiding behind false and misleading slogans, not to mention anonymous direct mail character assassination, is not the way to begin.
If you are displaying a “Save the Police” lawn sign, I urge you to take it down. Promote your candidate of choice, vote for whomever you want to vote for — but exercise your civic duty responsibly.
One fine body…