Six Clay police officers and the town’s commissioner of public safety spoke out in support of the proposed consolidation of the department with the county sheriffs on Friday.
At a press conference at Town Hall, Commissioner Owen P. Honors broke his public silence on the proposal, which will go to voters in a referendum June 23.
“I’ve sat down and thought this over myself very carefully,” Honors said of the proposal. “Our town supervisor, Jim Rowley, is not a liar. He’s an honest person. Our sheriff, Kevin Walsh, is an honest person. I believe them when they say this is what’s best for the town.”
Other officers who approved of the measure were Officer Jim McKenna, Sgt. Ed Blanche, Sgt. Mark Schiano, Officer Dan Walker, Lt. Marty Nerber and Officer Dan Ferrazzoli. All six officers resigned their membership to the PBA this past January.
“Not all of us are opposed to this,” said Nerber, a 14-year veteran of the Clay PD. “I believe consolidation is the way of the future. You’re going to see it happen eventually; why not now? It’s good for us, the officers — there are a lot of benefits for us — and it’s good for the community.”
Both Nerber and PBA spokesman Lt. Fred Corey said the officers’ decision to leave the PBA had nothing to do with the merger proposal.
“They left for personal reasons — ideological differences,” Corey said.
Corey also emphasized that his previous statements were not intended to address the feelings of all members of the police department.
“When I speak, I speak on behalf of the PBA — those nine members who are still active members of the PBA,” he said. “Those are the only ones we represent. We never purported to represent the whole department, but maybe I wasn’t clear on that.”
Corey said he wasn’t surprised by the officers’ public display of support for the merger.
“Everyone has an opinion, and everyone’s entitled to their opinion,” he said. “If they want to give it a shot [with the sheriff’s department], go for it.”
Corey also said that Honors’ statements came as no surprise.
“Because in the town of Clay we have a commissioner of public safety and not a police chief, he had to agree before they went ahead with this [merger proposal],” Corey said. “He had the ability to say yea or nay. We knew he gave the okay — he just hadn’t done it publicly. But it wasn’t a bombshell for us.”
The referendum vote will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Monday June 23 at Clay Town Hall. For more information, visit townofclay.org or claypba.com.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.