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July 15, 2011 - 7:39am

Today's Poll: Would you support a merger of Batavia PD with the Sheriff's Office?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Jennifer Keys
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For those of you who voted yes, do you feel that this would be a good move because it would reduce costs? The Sheriff's department would have to hire more deputies in order to provide you the level of service you currently have, so it would still cost you. I don't live in Batavia, but think this a relevant discussion for the times and am very eager to understand why people think this is a good idea. Thank.
Dave Olsen
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Jennifer; The county wouldn't need to hire more deputies, the Batavia Police Officers would be absorbed into the Sheriff's Dept., you would still have the same aggregate of police officers. The level of service wouldn't be any different, I bet there are redundancies in coverage right now. Probably can maintain the same service with less total officers and vehicles. The city would still collect the taxes for police services, the county would bill the city for coverage and I bet the bill will be less than the city collects. Therefore; savings for the city - Win. More revenue for the county and savings due to elimination of redundant patrolling - Win. The overall savings will come in the elimination of duplication of some supervisory and administration positions and clearer communications. Then the city can think about joining the courts to the county. I admit that I am not involved in Government at any level or law enforcement. Just a hick with an internet connection. So I'm just using a little country boy common sense and guessing. Some of the regular contributors on this site have a lot more insight, we'll see what they have to say.
bud prevost
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I think that consolidation would be a fine idea for the Leroy PD and Corfu PD, as well.
Dave Olsen
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Bud, I don't know about LeRoy, but Corfu's police are part-time and I think that's a money maker for the village.
Chris March
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IF there are guaranteed savings, im for it. BUT we have legislation pending which would legalize online-gambling nationally, in order to tax it. This would generate revenue- the sponsors however have said a federal board of oversight *READ sucking hole of money - needs to be created to oversee it all. SO they will likely have found a new revenue source only to suck it dry before even starting to realize gains. such is the nature of our government- as long as we allow them to keep getting bigger- on every level- local town state national, they will. Until we reach up and grab them by the ****** by 1. stopping blindly voting in the two party system. 2. looking for real alternatives, we are doomed as a nation. The only vote wasted is for a democrap or a republicrap. (I'm a registered republicrap, for those who might wonder, but have Never voted based on any feeling but that I want to vote for an honest man / woman. That immediately knocks out any career politician, and almost all democrats and republicans. Sorry if you don't feel this way but I'd be happy to debate anyone on the merits of abolishing the two-party system.) TV is the great silencer. Fast food is the elixir of the fat nation. Fat, Stupid and Drunk is how the government wants you (oh, and apathetic too.) Don't give em what they want.
Phil Ricci
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Jen, while you're right in your thinking, you're wrong in approach. There would still be a cost, but it would be far less. Across the nation Sheriff's Departments have what is known as Metro Units for the more urban areas of their counties. If Batavia were to go to the county, something like this would probably be discussed. More than likely officers from our current force would move over, albeit not as many. The key thing to understand about this is that Batavia will cover that cost, but those officers could still be used to patrol the rest of the county as well, so it would not be all on city residents. Another thing to consider is that Batavia not only has city police, but County and State as well within its limits, so the ability to consolidate while still maintaining appropriate levels as attainable.
Phil Ricci
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Dave Said, I admit that I am not involved in Government at any level or law enforcement. Just a hick with an internet connection. So I'm just using a little country boy common sense and guessing. You're smarter than just that, Dave. Mostly because you have common sense. The problem with government is that we run as fast away from the logical solution as we can. Look at recent events within in our city government. We just pass a law, orderance, suggestion...whatever it is to make our paid police force to tell smokers to "stop it...please" in our parks. Instead of the logical area designation to appease all involved. We complicated it, made it bloated and created more issues. This city needs people who actually get it! With all respect to the current council, but so few on that board actually have private sector jobs. Most work or worked for some public entity: schools, colleges, law enforcement, state, etc...how could we possibly expect them to understand what the rest of us are going through when those entities were still getting raises during the meltdown. Charlie may have been rough...sorry Mallow, the guy was an ass sometimes, but he GOT it. He understood that you have to be able to look not just at today, but ten years down the road. It's called vision, and it's something that this city lacks.
bud prevost
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I can only speak for Leroy. We have 8 full time officers, 7 making more than 60,000 a year. For a village of 4500 people that has virtually no manufacturing base anymore, I just see consolidation of police services as a way to save money. This in no way implies anything disrespectful to our department. They are true professionals working in a dying, cash strapped state. On my daily walks around the village, I've observed county and state police almost always with a vehicle patrolling. If the Leroy PD were merged into the sheriffs department, I believe the village would be just as safe, while increasing the effectiveness of the sheriff patrols. Just my opinion (and not a popular one, I am well aware).
Mark Potwora
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i agree..We all pay county taxes which include Sheriffs,which if you live in the city you get no benefit from..You would also have one one Chief in stead of several...One central motor pool of cars..Metro type force is the way to go for all of Genesse county...Dave there need to be a little more common sense in all forms of government...Mr.Mallow always preached the word of fiefdom..How they all try to protect their little piece of the pie........
C. M. Barons
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I believe there are (were) additional charges to the municipality for sheriff coverage. It was a while ago that I was made aware of this... One sheriff patrol is dedicated to towns of Bergen, LeRoy and Pavilion. If Bergen desires a greater degree of coverage (and I'm not sure what that amounts to- perhaps more than routine circuit and youth officer support), Bergen is billed extra for that. The bulk of savings from merging the City Police with the County Sheriff is shedding some of the administrative costs and perhaps gaining some additional state/federal revenue for having done so. On the loss side, the city force will no longer be autonomous- its police force being part of a bigger scheme, city priorities competing with the priorities of other municipalities in terms of budget, personnel and share/allocation of same. It's certainly a shared service agreement that no one wants to enter into lightly.
C. M. Barons
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...No one has mentioned the new headquarters and jail for this greater Genesee law enforcement group.
Phil Ricci
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It doesn't have to be that way at all CM. There are designs across this country where it works, and works well. I also disagree with notion that the only savings are shedding admin. There will be much more than that if done correctly. Regardless, all of this is speculation at best. What we deserve is nothing less than an honest option from our elected officials. Then it should be up to the city residents to decide. As of right now, this straw poll has 51% saying yes flatly with another 23+% willing to listen. I think it's time to put it on the table.
George Richardson
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You guys are talking about eliminating jobs in an area of high unemployment. Let it go and address it again in five years, if we're not all gone by then.I personally think it is a dumb idea even though I could not care less, as opposed to I could care less, which I could but I don't.
Jennifer Keys
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Actually, we don't have 8 full-time officers in Le Roy (I believe we are down to 5) and have been working on downsizing our police force to part-time since before I got here. One of the issues that no one seems to have chimed in on here is that...while you do occassionally see Sheriff's deputies and state police go through, at least in the Town and Village of Le Roy they are not here full time. Even in the Town who contacts with the county for coverage. If we were to eliminate the police force in Le Roy, for example, when you call for an officer you may have to wait for a sheriff's deputy to come from the otherside of the county. IDK about you, but shots fired across the street is something I want taken care of immediately. I don't want to wait for someone to get here from Oakfield. That is not alarmist, that is reality, under the current structure. Those who weighed in above are correct that there are not currently enough sheriff's deputies to cover if the city were to consolidate their police force. Would the Sheriff's department absorb some of the officers and would they be able to increase their patrols, because that currently is not how it has worked with the Towns that contract with them? I'm not saying they aren't doing their jobs or that they aren't doing them well, what I am saying is that in our county even with the state police presence we do not have enough police officers to cover for immediate response. Has a consolidation study been conducted that I did not see?
bud prevost
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A metro police department, based in Batavia, with stations in Leroy for East side of the county, and Corfu for the west side. In a time when Governor Cuomo is pushing government consolidation, it makes sense.
Jennifer Keys
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So does moving to a part-time force. We are permitted to go on ridealongs with law enforcement if we want to gain first hand knowledge of what goes on.
Kyle Couchman
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LOL Dave I take issue with your common sense comment. While the opposite is true with SOME who contribute regularly here on the Batavian. I dont believe there is such a thing as common sense, in fact it seems that what we call common sense is almost extinct nowadays. And Jennifer....as far as response time I'm not sure if shots fired would get a quick response..... But if you reported shots fired by an angry ewok you might have more immediate response. Heck they might even send out S.W.A.T
Jennifer Keys
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Thanks for the laugh, Kyle!
Michael Pullinzi
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Keep in mind the "poll" is not scientific and includes anyone and not just City residents. You don't even have to reside in Genesee County or New York State to vote in the poll. IE: If you live in Leroy, why would you care if there is no City Police Dept. etc.? A poll of City residents only would have a much different outcome, but I don't think Howard has that capability here.
Dave Olsen
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I agree Michael, it should ultimately be a decision for the city residents. as should the LeRoy idea be an issue for Leroy voters. As a county taxpayer, I see a plus for the county as well. Phil makes a good point about putting the issue out there for the voters, that hasn't happened and it does seem that there are some who'd like to keep it that way.
Jennifer Keys
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Why wouldn't those of us in Le Roy be interested in the outcome of a police consolidation, or discussion thereof, in Batavia? It seems to me that there are similar rumblings in our area and we face the same economic constraints as everyone else. The discussion is educational and may contain information that we would use/consider in making our own decisions.
John Roach
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Jennifer, there has been no recent study. Consolidation of forces is not easy. You have to blend in seniority, ranks and a lot of other things. Imagine you are a County Sheriff and next on the list for Sgt and then a City Police Sgt shows up and takes away the vacancy. Or you are a 20 year City police officer who is working days. Will you suddenly be at the bottom of the seniority list and have to work nights? All this can be worked out, but is not easy. Of course, you can just eliminate the City Police and give them preference for hiring in the Sheriff department, but how many of them would waste their time waiting. Then you lose their knowledge of the area and experience. The driving factor will be money. With the Fire and Police Departments being 50% of the City budget, it comes down to how much you are willing to pay for the service?
Phil Ricci
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John said, The driving factor will be money. With the Fire and Police Departments being 50% of the City budget, it comes down to how much you are willing to pay for the service? Exactly John. You can't come on here and complain about how high your taxes are if you're not willing to deal with largest portion or your budget. That's just asinine. I also agree it would not be simple, but it is doable, and the only people who should decide if it's worth doing are the voters.
John Roach
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Phil, I can complain about the high cost of gas, but I am still willing to buy it. And I can complain about taxes, but still might be willing to pay them for what I want. The question we don't know yet is how much are we willing to pay (despite the complaints). As for the voters, there is no overwhelming demand yet to do away with the police or fire departments. People are actually very happy with the protection they get. What will probably happen is the 2% property tax cap will squeeze out some local services because we will not be able to raise the money to pay for them.
Phil Ricci
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No John, you pay for gas because you have to get to work, or school, or the grocery store. I loathe fact that I have to pay these prices, but since I don't live and work in the same town, I have to have it. Batavia may have a mini bus line, but so many people can't live on that, so that example is pretty weak to me. And if you want to try and sell me that you're willing to pay for these taxes because you're like the services you get, then I call BS. You're one of the biggest complainers on how money is spent. No one is demanding that the police be done away with, then again the average person doesn't realize the impact of those two departments and their long term costs. Which is kind of been my point from the get go. That cap needs to used as a flashlight on everything. I want my government to bring options to the table, not larger contracts with guaranteed 3% raises and lifetime health benefits where you pay little to nothing. Then try to sell me that I'm getting a deal because it's not 4 or 5 %. These arguments are old, tired and lame. The public may not be calling for it, but that's because they don't know that it's an option. Give them some and let us decide what's best.
John Roach
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Phil, you sound bitter. The discussion is not what I want or like, and my example was generalized to try and open your eyes that right now the vast majority of people do not feel that upset to want change yet. You are right that most do not know the impact on the budget. With about 50% of the property here being rental units, many do not see the direct impact. They pay taxes through rent, but do not see the tax bill. And in multiple units, the increase is many times divided among the units. The rental owners might not like the increase, but they can pass it on. That leaves a smaller number who directly feel the pinch. There will be downsizing/consolidation sooner or later. If you want it faster, then work harder for it. Again, looking forward to reminding you of the August 8th meeting and hearing you speak.
Michael Pullinzi
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Jennifer: The point is- Would you want the City of Batavia residents to decide what you do in Leroy?
Jennifer Keys
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Michael, well no, of course not, and this isn't a scientific poll or an actual vote, however, it is precedent and being a part of the discussion in regards to finding out information is very relevant to us. The comment about Corfu was particularly helpful and Bud Prevost, as always, has some very interesting points. If this were an actual survey open to only those in Batavia it wouldn't be in an open forum for anyone anywhere to participat in. That was my point; not to take away from yours, though.
Dave Olsen
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Some good comments here, ones that stick with me and have caused me to think about it a little more: George: You guys are talking about eliminating jobs in an area of high unemployment. John: There will be downsizing/consolidation sooner or later. Phil: (referring to Charlie Mallow) He understood that you have to be able to look not just at today, but ten years down the road. It's called vision, and it's something that this city lacks. All in m opinion are correct. Which is why this needs to worked on NOW. Let's get some hard data on what people want in their respective communities. Figure out a process in which consolidation could be done in stages, with a timeline. That way everyone knows what's coming and when. Then maybe some of the people who are in positions being eliminated can be moved to another position that may come open. Maybe some money can be found from the state and fed for re-training to a different function so we can keep good people who have experience here and want to stay here. Some will want to leave, a timeline will give them time to find the job they want. Some may want to retire, but aren't ready yet, this gives them time to figure that out. George is right, these are people who have earned better than to be kicked to the curb and that should be a consideration. And it'll give the government entities involved an opportunity to fund this a piece at a time, instead of all at once. Crisis Management doesn't work, except during a crisis. If you can see something coming at you, why not plan ahead, it ain't rocket science.

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