East Syracuse Village Board takes first step towards police abolishment

Public hearing set for Jan. 6

— East Syracuse Trustee Jim Carr has made three motions at three different board meetings this year to hold a public hearing to discuss the abolishment of the East Syracuse Police Department, and that motion failed each time. But the fourth time was the charm for Carr, and at the board’s Dec. 2 meeting, the motion passed by a vote of 3 – 2. It was Mayor Robert Tackman’s vote that decided the outcome.

“It’s a decision that has to be brought to the public,” Tackman said. “The public has to be the deciding factor on how our budget moves forward, not the village board.”

If the police department was abolished, it could potentially save more than $1 million from the budget. And although Carr’s motion was to completely abolish the police force, one of the issues to be discussed at the public hearing is whether or not the village should revisit a shared services agreement with the town of DeWitt, which is what it opted to do when the police department was put out for a village-wide referendum vote in October 2012.

A shared services agreement could allow the full-time officers from the East Syracuse Police Department to be absorbed into the DeWitt Police force and continue to patrol the village, while maintaining the same level of policing - but it could be too little too late for the village. DeWitt Supervisor Ed Michalenko said the town may not be able to make the agreement happen this year.

Michalenko organized a meeting in the early fall to discuss this possibility with the East Syracuse trustees and the Police Benevolent Association. Michalenko said that he made it clear at that meeting that if the town and village were to combine police forces, he’d prefer that the decision was made prior to November, when the DeWitt Town Board passed its 2014 budget.

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