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East Syracuse residents speak out on proposal to abolish police force

Members of the Friends of the East Syracuse Police Department make their way to St. Matthews School for a public hearing on the village board's proposal to abolish the police department.

Members of the Friends of the East Syracuse Police Department make their way to St. Matthews School for a public hearing on the village board's proposal to abolish the police department. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— “Bordering patrols would also become involved,” the police chief said.

Conway said the town, which is staffed with 36 full-time police officers, now has a minimum of five officers on duty from 7 to 11 p.m., and at least four on patrol from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The maximum number of DeWitt police officers patrolling the town at any given time is seven to eight.

“Those times that we would have seven or eight, or potentially now even nine, officers, then it’s very likely that the second officer would be in the village,” he said.

Mayor Liedka next made a plea to the voters to support the proposal in front of them.

“There’s times when we have to make changes for our residents to make something better, there’s a lot of times when we have to make changes to save them money. Tonight’s a unique opportunity— we can accomplish both,” he said.

The mayor said pension costs have doubled in the last four years and health insurance costs have increased an average of 12 percent over the last five years

“These are staggering numbers,” he said. “They’re numbers that a small village of 3,000 people, we just can’t continue to operate this way.”

In response to those residents who have said they’re willing to pay more in taxes to save the police department, he said: “The bottom line is, we can’t do it.” He cited the state’s property tax cap, which prevents municipalities from raising the tax levy more than 2 percent.

“Two percent generates fifty-thousand dollars,” he said. “We need hundreds [of thousands], if not millions, of dollars to continue moving forward.

“We’ve just heard a great proposal on how we can gain great service. Our officers provide great service. This is not about performance — they do a great job.”

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