Cobleskill expects an answer to its cops question by June.
In an issue that’s outraged many in the community, the Village of Cobleskill is looking at turning its Police Department over to the Schoharie County Sheriff.
Most fears have focused on whether that would still mean 24/7 coverage—it won’t--something that even its proponents said from the start could be a deal-breaker.
A committee of Trustees Mark Galasso and Howard Burt, Acting Chief Larry Travis, and Patrolman Jeff Brown has already met twice to draw up a list of questions “without looking at the answers,” Mr. Galasso said.
“Does it matter if the people don’t want this?” asked Carol McGuire, a former trustee who opposes the change, at last Tuesday’s village meeting.
“Remember, it will be subject to a voter referendum—assuming we even get that far,” Mr. Galasso said.
“We have to put one idea to bed first,” added Mayor Nadeau.
“I’m hoping by June we can put this proposal to bed. “Then, we’ll look at other options.”
Among them, he said, a town police department and a town-wide police district.
Mayor Nadeau also assured the crowd of about 35 residents that he wanted to put to rest fears that anyone’s job is at risk in the Police Department—contrary to rumors on the street.
“No one has been told, ‘Your job is in jeopardy,’” he said.
“The emotional side of this weighs heavy...”
What about doing nothing?” asked Ms. McGuire.
“I don’t agree,” said Mr. Galasso. “The status quo is going to kill this village.”
Trustee Linda Holmes argued that instead of cutting services, the village and town should be working together to get a larger chunk of the county’s sales tax revenue since most of it’s generated in Cobleskill.
That was also a point made earlier in the meeting by Ms. McGuire, one of the cop-switch’s most vocal opponents.
“Doesn’t it make sense to go after some increases that aren’t a slap in the face?” she asked. “That means, leave the police department alone.”
Dawn Fiorillo made the same point.
“Forget about eliminating the Planning Department. Forget about eliminating the Parks District. Forget about eliminating the Police Department...” she argued.
“Your time would be better spent trying to get our fair share from the county.”
Paulette Danforth kicked off the public comment portion of the meeting with four “D” words: Disgusted, disturbing, disgraceful, and discouraged.
“I [am] disgusted that some on this board…have given new meaning to sneaky, backroom negotiations and insider deals which only seem to include two people,” Ms. Danforth said.
Ms. Danforth also characterized as “disgraceful” the atmosphere at the village office and PD.
“There is no joy in working with someone who constantly is demeaning, talking down and belittling the job that these wonderful people do, some of whom serve at the pleasure (or not) of the mayor.”
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Included on the list of concerns identified by the village’s committee:
• What are the consequences if the county breaks the contract, since reinstituting the PD will be next to impossible?
Or if the Sheriff’s Department cannot meet the minimum staffing requirements?
• Most road patrol deputies would have less Civil Service time than transferred PD officers—and so the first to be let go in the event of layoffs.
• What happens to PD and village- owned equipment?
• Who will pay to hire and train new officers to cover the village if PD officers transfer to different departments or as they retire?
Again, Mr. Galasso stressed if the questions raised can’t be resolved—both to the village’s and the county’s satisfaction, “it won’t work.”