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A Reader Contributes A Well-Founded Proposal For
Eliminating the Money-Pit Coeymans Police Department
to Save the Residents of the Town of Coeymans
At Least $2 Million A Year
The Author Advocates that the $2 Million Dollars Saved Could be Used to Develop Small Businesses, Parks and Recreation, and Historical Sites in the Area to Attract Residents, Businesses and Tourism. Not a Shabby Plan At All.
A Contribution by Laszlo Polyak, Ravena, New York
The blogger recently put out a poll about the Coeymans Police Department and asked whether you are for or against the dissolution of the police department based on the various complaints of police brutality, ineptness, unprofessionalism, lack of training, and violation of civil rights and abuse of citizens and residents. And the blogger now sarcastically refers to them as the Coeymanazis, and giving some individuals personnel nicknames such as “Dirty Hands.”
I grew up in a township with county police only; no village or town police, only county and state police. Perhaps that is why 2 million people moved out of NY. A lot of southern states provide services such as fire, police, paramedics on a county level so people see the benefits and they feel the benefits in their wallets. How? You ask–they pay less taxes!
I find it personally very difficult to write about this, since I have family and friends who carry badges and who range from small town police officers to federal investigators. For example, I have a cousin who is now retired from the PDNY and also from the FDNY. Yes, one person, two hats, so there are people out there who experience an event like 9/11 with a whole different meaning, and we can’t fathom what they are thinking when they have lost hundreds of comrades and friends. It’s a different level of experiencing the world, yet they manage to act responsibly and compassionately, respectfully.
But back to the nitty-gritty: I want to take a down-to-earth non-personal dollar-and-cents approach to the idea of dissolving the Coeymans police department. In the past Mayor John Bruno perhaps said it best when he questioned: “What do I see for my tax dollars?” And then, a few years later, the village of Ravena dissolved their police department. Now as a community we financially have to look at what we’re getting for our tax dollars, and ask that and similar questions. Do we really see our state tax dollars at work when we have an elite force like the New York State Police using their sophisticated and advanced training doing nothing other than handing out thruway traffic violations? Do we see our county tax dollars at work via the Albany County Sheriff department, or even through the County District Attorney’s office? You’re probably thinking to yourself, “NO!” But you’re paying for all of it…at least 4 times for the same services. Smart, eh? Why don’t you do that for a quart of milk, a shirt, a car? Because it’s stupid!
In extremely hard financial times where people are losing their homes to back taxes or simply because they don’t have a job or have one that pays crappola! Imagine losing your home for a few hundred dollars and then our taxes going up and up and up. This might be a good time to ask that burning question: “Did you see all the For Sale signs go up after the shool budget vote?” Do we want to keep or disolve our Coeymans Police Department based on financial cost versus the benefits versus the same services by the New York State Police or the Albany County Sheriff’s department, who would provide the same services but from local satellite offices (just like the New York State Police and the Greene County Sheriff has done in neighboring New Baltimore).
For more than 20 years I have looked at the annual budget of the town of coeymans. And I have seen the spending go up and up. Some frustrating by unfunded mandates. So let me break down what I estimate the entire cost of running the police department is today. Out of a reported $5 million town budget, approximately $750,000 for police salaries alone. (Compare that with more than $41 million for the RCS central school district budget! The school budget is more than 8 times that of the entire Town of Coeymans!) At the time of this writing, I am still waiting for the Town of Coeymans to respond to a F.O.I.L. (Freedom of Information Law) request for the W-2s of Coeymans Police department personnel. I was told it would take another two weeks. So I can only guestimate at the dispatch salaries which could be as much as $450,000 including secretarial salaries, etc. [Editor’s Note: According to SeeThrough NY, the 19 employees at the Coeymans Police Department total a crushing $650,000 in salaries) Then you have the cost of the vehicles, the cost of maintaining the vehicles that run 24/7 (tires, tune ups, oil change, etc.), not to mention the gas and the mileage covering the township in the rural and farm areas. Then there is the maintenance for radio equipment, ongoing training, retirement fund, health benefits, and routine court and law suits. That adds up to $2.2 to $2.4 million dollars. I stand corrected by a $100,000 or so since I am still waiting for actual receipts. The point is this: About half of the town budget, at least, is going to support the Coeymans Police Department. Are we that crime-ridden, are we that much of a gang of hoodlums that we need to spend that much on law enforcement? Can we afford to maintain a police department for a mere 8,000 people? Perhaps we should look into turning over the operations to the Albany County Sheriff’s Department or the New York State Police or both and invite them to use our present law enforcement installations and offices.
And that’s what the Blogger is asking in the police poll, that’s the poll question: Would you support a referendum to eliminate the Coeymans Police Department? Would you support the ballot to turn over law enforcement to the professionals of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police? Do you want to disolve it and turn it over or not??? For me I have a handful of honest issues.
One of the top of my list is that we train officers and then they go off to other police departments/agencies; Coeymans is simply not a major career goal. If the officer is good and has a future, after he or she gets some experience, they go elsewhere. And we are constantly doing the training. And this is where minor to major civil rights violations have occurred; because the Coeymans Police are either rejects from other departments or are in their training training phase, we are sued for their lack of training. And police training is continuous. I has to be! This situation not only expensive, it’s frustrating because we can’t retain the good, civic-minded, competent, intelligent police officers. And now the facts indicate that that even our elected officials have neglected the requirement for a policy and procedures on who reports to whom, and how citizens’ complaints, yours and mine, are handled. The patrol man answers to the sargeant, who answers to the police chief, the chief answers to the elected officials in this case the Town Supervisor and the town board. But according to information received from the Town of Coeymans, no one seems to know anything concrete about who reports to whom and what the chain-of-command might be. The result: chaos! And lawsuits! And civil rights violations! And miscarriages of justice! You name it Coeymans has it!
Another issue is that we have reports that the Coeymans Police Department selectively takes complaints, that is, police department employees tend to decide whether or not you’re going to get law enforcement services when you ask for them. And that to me is totally unprofessional and biased–it’s also unlawful. If this happens to you then you must request assistance from the New York State Police or the Albany County Sheriff’s Office (although one Sheriff’s department employee who is also a part-time Coeymans Police Officer–and married to chief Darlington’s sister, recently refused to take a harassment complaint from a local woman). And then, please file a complaint with the FBI!
If somebody came by and asked me to sign a petition to dissolve the Coeymans Police Department, I sadly admit, there would be no compelling reason not to sign it, and I would sign it. I would rather deal with the New York State Police or the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. It would be unlikely that we would experience the personal bias or “get even” mentality based on gossip that 90% of the time results in retaliation, intimidation, and coercion by the local police.
But more realistically to me I would be opting for a more efficient and productive use of my county and state tax dollars and looking at a potential savings of at least $2 million of our town tax dollars that could be better spent promoting small businesses, to development of our beautiful parks and our waterfront, to restoration of some of the beautiful historical sites in our midst. The $2 million dollars saved could be used to nurture pride in our town, and when you’re proud of your town, you’ll have a measurable increase in your own self-esteem, self-respect, and love for your neighbor. So when you look at it in dollars and cents, it makes sense very good sense to dissolve the Coeymans Police Department. Not because one guy has “Dirty Hands,” or another guy harasses little old ladies, or because we personally have experienced civil rights violations or even profiling of one sort or another, or even if the Smalbany Blogger rightly or wrongly calls the Coeymans Police the Coeymansnazis. We also have to take a good hard look at the abuses and violations, real ones and potential ones, that come with the confusion and indifference we see in the Coeymans administration and the Coeymans Police Department. One example it the rubber-stamp approval of the Coeymans Police Department’s request for an increase in petty cash from $300 to $1000! There’s no way that $1000 can be considered “petty cash,” at least not according to all the accounting books I’ve read!
But, seriously, I think we should all provide our input on the poll because I’m curious about what the results of the poll would be, aren’t you?
These unfunded mandates are going to continue to go up and up and I doubt very much gasoline prices are going to go down. So as a community we have to discuss this and if we do dissolve our inefficient, expensive Coeymans Police Department, then we must also make efforts to assist those persons who are left jobless with job placement elsewhere, perhaps somewhere in the community where they can really earn their keep. But to continue running the Coeymans Police Department we have to find justification in funding it, too.
We’re all in this mess together, so you have to really give some thought to “What’s your solution to a growing finaical burden?”
Thank you, Mr Polyak, for a well-reasoned and well-written commentary on the present state of affairs of law enforcement in the Town of Coeymans. Your presentation is motivating and stimulates thought about the status quo and ignorance of the facts. Continuing the present situation is like the reasoning of stopping your watch to save time, or complaining about fuel oil consumption and your fuel bill while still using the 75-year old converted coal boiler and not biting the bullet to install a fuel-efficient heating system. We’re all guilty at one time or another! But we need to make some sensible decisions real soon or at least discuss alternatives in a constructive and sensible manner. Mr Polyak has provided us with a good start.
For those of our readers who have not yet visted the Coeymans Police Poll, you can click this link Coeymans Police Department to go to the article and participate in the poll. The poll is at the end of the article.
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