NEW CITY – Rockland County’s police chiefs have called for the county government to reject a plan revealed last week by County Executive Ed Day that would eliminate the Sheriff’s Department’s 37-member police patrol division.
Stony Point Police Chief Brian Moore, president of the Rockland County Police Chiefs Association, issued a statement on behalf of the local police chiefs urging that the cuts proposed by Day not be implemented in the 2015 county budget.
Stony Point Police Chief Brian Moore, president of the Rockland County Police Chiefs Association, speaks against proposed budget cuts to the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department. Included in the group were police and town and village officials from throughout Rockland County.
“His budget proposes the elimination of 37 officers from the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department Patrol Division,” Chief Moore said. “These cuts would cripple Rockland County law enforcement efforts to ensure the public’s safety in Rockland County,” Moore continued, saying that cuts will lead to increased town and village taxes as the cost of providing specialized police services is passed on to taxpayers in their local tax bills.
“It would decimate decades of carefully planned progress in our capabilities to detect, combat and deter crime in and around our county,” Moore said.
The Sheriff’s Department has countywide police jurisdiction.
Day, in his budget presentation on Thursday, called for the elimination of the police patrol division, which on averages puts two patrol cars on the streets per shift. Additionally, his proposal would eliminate the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit. These two units are not required by law for the Sheriff’s Department.
Day contends the police layoffs could be done without losing services that are provided by the Sheriff’s Department, including its crime investigation units, bomb squad, K-9 units and the marine unit that patrols the Hudson River. Rockland Sheriff Louis Falco III, D-Orangetown, who holds countywide elected office, said Rockland County has long had a police patrol unit and that about two-thirds of sheriff’s departments in New York State have a patrol division. The mounted unit has developed over the years to include training programs that are used by police agencies throughout the region – including the State Police and New York City police agencies – to teach police officers mounted techniques. In Rockland County, the Mounted Unit is used to assist local police at large events and parades and has become a regular part of summertime police efforts to cut crime late at night in downtown Nyack, Spring Valley and Haverstraw.
After Day made his proposal, Falco and Rockland police chiefs said that the county executive’s proposal does not take into consideration civil service regulations that govern jobs in government agencies, including the Sheriff’s Department.
Stony Point’s Moore said the elimination of 37 police jobs in the Sheriff’s Department, because of civil service rules, would in effect force the layoffs of deputies who work in special units. He said units such as the bomb squad, the county’s SWAT team, the river patrol, the arson investigations unit, crime scene unit and others would be effectively shut down by the layoffs.
Most Rockland County police departments use the investigative units of the Sheriff’s Department to assist with arson investigations, process crime scenes and at unusual incidents.
Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty said the benefits to public safety from joint efforts between the Sheriff’s Department and local police forces sometimes are neither glamorous nor highly-publicized. At his department, Nulty said he was able to free up two police officers for other duties because Orangetown and the Sheriff’s Department coordinated their computer services.
Nulty said that for a department that has gone from about 100 police officers to about 80 through attrition over the years, freeing up two cops is a big deal. Additionally, members of the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit have been a regular part of the late-night scene in downtown Nyack on weekends, when large crowds hit the village’s nightspots.
In Spring Valley, where the Mounted Unit is also regularly deployed, Police Chief Paul Modica said the deputies on horseback assist village officers with keeping the peace in areas such as the village’s Hill section as well as in downtown areas. Modica said the Mounted Unit has become a part of the village’s efforts to prevent crime in neighborhoods that have long been associated with violent crime.
“We have been receiving grant money to work with the Sheriff’s Department,” Modica said. “This has been a direct benefit to our village. We are being paid to work with the Sheriff’s Department.”
Read the entire article at Nyack Free Press, complete with Stony Point Police Chief Brian Moore, president of the Rockland County Police Chiefs Association, issued a statement on behalf of the local police chiefs and a statement issued by the County Executive’s Office.