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East Syracuse voters elect to abolish police department

Village will enter into a shared services agreement with DeWitt Jan. 1

East Syracuse residents wait in line to vote at village hall on April 16. Voters approved the village board's decision to abolish the East Syracuse Police Department and enter into a shared services agreement with the town of DeWitt.

East Syracuse residents wait in line to vote at village hall on April 16. Voters approved the village board's decision to abolish the East Syracuse Police Department and enter into a shared services agreement with the town of DeWitt. Allie Wenner

— After a year of heated board meetings and high tax rates, East Syracuse residents voted 333 to 199 in favor of abolishing the East Syracuse Police Department on April 16.

The village will enter into a shared services agreement with the town of DeWitt starting on Jan. 1, 2015. The East Syracuse Village Board anticipates that the abolishment of the department will contribute to a drop in taxes this year. In 2013-14, East Syracuse had the highest tax rate of any municipality in Onondaga County at $16.41 per $100,000 of assessed home value.

“We know that we’re not going to see the massive decrease that the county comptroller was expecting, mainly because that report [wasn’t including] the cost to keep the department for six months,” Mayor Robert Tackman said. “So that’s a huge expense we’re going to carry, and we’re going to carry it for six months before we really start to see cost savings.”

A community divided

Despite what the hard numbers suggest, East Syracuse residents are just about split down the middle when it comes to the idea of police abolishment and sharing services with DeWitt. Many of the naysayers voiced their disappointment that the village brought the police up for a referendum again after voters shot down almost the same proposition 531-300 in October 2012.

“We spoke a year and a half ago about the same issue, and there was a large [voter] turnout and a large majority decided to keep the police,” said Aaron Fried. “In terms of voter mandate, I believe that’s a mandate for the village to look at other things besides the police.”

“I don’t think that the police department is the root of this village’s problems and I don’t think [the village board] has dug deep enough to see what the root is,” said Kim O’Brien, former chair of the Friends of the East Syracuse Police group.

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