Rumors have been shuffling around the Village of North Syracuse during the past few days as leaflets with the rumored literature about merging police departments were circulated among residents.
Concerned community members gathered in a crowd for the public hearing that was scheduled to clear up any misunderstandings. Mayor John Heindorf set the record straight to rumors of merging the village police department with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department.
The crowded second floor of the community center attested to the concerns that representatives of the police department and the police department's union had because they got word of what they thought was a "secret board meeting."
Also attending with concerns on the issue were longtime and new residents, as well as loved ones of village police officers.
Heindorf began the public hearing at 4:29 p.m. with a written statement explaining what meeting actually went and for what reasons.
He reiterated to the public that "the board has never met in secret," nor has the board made any decisions on merging the with the sheriff's department."
The mayor explained that he and village treasurer Dianne Kufel and deputy mayor Diane Browning did indeed meet with a representative of the sheriff's department in order to learn more about what a merger would mean.
The board is yet to even have a formal discussion on the initial meeting mayor mentioned.
"The meeting was primarily a fact finding mission and exploration," Heindorf said.
Heindorf gave the floor to several community members after explaining how the village needs to find areas to cut costs.
Business owners and longtime residents expressed their doubt in merging with eh Sheriff's department. Most resident who spoke at the hearing said that the village police officers have established an excellent presence of safety and a community.
President of the police department's union Rocco DePerno spoke at the hearing because he felt that everyone had to hear why there was so much concern, and why an unknown source most likely distributed the leaflets.
"We want o be on a 50/50 playing field, not 60/40," DePerno said. "If the taxpayers want us, keep us."
Heindorf told DePerno that he thought whoever spread the rumors "really jumped the gun" by assuming the merger was completed.
Heindorf explained to the crowd that the board is merely exploring options to cuts village expenses while also keeping the safety of the village in mind. There are further meetings to be scheduled for the board to hear options and find out what a merger entails.