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East Syracuse schedules hearings to consider abolishing police department

The future of the village police department could be in the hands of East Syracuse residents. A referendum vote on whether to abolish the department is scheduled for Oct. 16.

The future of the village police department could be in the hands of East Syracuse residents. A referendum vote on whether to abolish the department is scheduled for Oct. 16. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— The village board of trustee voted 3-1 to schedule the public hearing for Oct. 1, with Trustees James Carr, Trustee Chad Tolhurst and Mayor Liedka voting in favor and Deputy Mayor Barbara Quonce voting against. On the vote to schedule an informational meeting for Sept. 19, three voted yes, with Quonce abstaining. Trustee Jodi Gehrke-Turner was not present.

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Chief Don Morris

The village stands to lose a police department that’s well known by the people it serves, said East Syracuse Police Chief Don Morris. The police department was established in 1885.

“I think that the biggest thing for the village is that we’re there in the community and the residents know us,” he said. “They get to know the officers, so they have that relationship. I think that’s a big thing.”

He said it’s “fine that the residents get to have the say” in the future of the department.

“I think that when all the information is out there that residents will be able to make an informed decision,” he said.

Morris recently began working part-time as police chief for the Liverpool Police Department through an informal shared-services agreement between Liverpool and East Syracuse. He'll continue as police chief for East Syracuse, working 40 hours a week, but will also work four hours daily in Liverpool. Morris resigned from Liverpool Police Chief in 2007 to take the job in East Syracuse.

"[Mayor Gary White] reached out to me and asked if I'd be able to assist them, help them out, come over there as their chief in a part-time capacity," Morris said. "My prior relations with the members of the department, with the village and with Gary, I had an obligation to go there and help them, and respond to their need."

The arrangement will be effective through Dec. 31, during which time village attorneys for both villages will determine if a formal inter-municipal agreement is necessary. If made permanent, the move could save the village of Liverpool more than $45,000 annually.

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