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Sep 9, 2013 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Southampton Town Makes Offer To Stave Off Creation Of Sagaponack Village Police Department

Sep 11, 2013 10:52 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday evening approved an inter-municipal agreement proposal with Sagaponack Village that the town believes will head off the village’s move toward forming its own police department, saving the town the potential loss of millions in tax revenues that the village now pays it for police coverage.

The agreement that is being pitched to Sagaponack officials, according to Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, would assign a Town Police officer to patrolling Sagaponack’s 4 square miles of roads for 16 hours each day, 12 months a year. The resolution was approved by a unanimous vote.

Village lawmakers say they still intend to vote on whether to form their own department this Monday, September 16. If they reject the proposal, officials could introduce a new resolution stating that they would agree to the town’s inter-municipal agreement, though a vote on it might not happen the same day.

Village leaders were cautiously optimistic about the town’s offer when reached after Tuesday’s meeting.

“It seems they are attempting to give us what our main concerns were,” said Trustee Bill Barbour, who had been a supporter of the village forming its own police department. “We had all our ducks in a row for our own department ... [but] I think this helps us get the coverage we feel we deserve from the town.”

Mayor Don Louchheim was noncommittal about his own stance on the village still forming its own police force when reached on Wednesday morning, adding that the board will vote on the resolution as planned on Monday. He said the fact that the town quickly and unanimously approved the proposed agreement will weigh in the decision by him and his fellow board members.

“We welcome the fact that the town did finally agree on the language of an offer,” Mr. Louchheim said.

At a special meeting of the Sagaponack Village Board on Saturday morning, at least three of the five board members seemed firmly in favor of forming a village police department, citing improvements in residents’ safety, reduction of nuisances and speeding on village streets, and the potential tax savings.

“What we need here in Sagg, as far as I’m concerned, is a community police force,” said Mr. Barbour, himself a retired Southampton Town Police officer. “We need response time, we need visibility ... and we need accountability. Just because I live in Sagaponack doesn’t mean I’m willing to wait an hour for the police to come.”

Mayor Louchheim, nonetheless, said there were “serious reservations” about forming a department on the part of some board members. But, he also said he and, he believes, most village residents are in favor of the village doing something to expand its police coverage. Mr. Louchheim personally said he would like to see 24-hour police presence in the village.

“I would like to have coverage 24/7 ... and I think that’s the straw that will break the camel’s back,” Mr. Louchheim, the former publisher of The Press, told a standing-room-only crowd, which included Ms. Throne-Holst, in Sagaponack Village Hall on Saturday morning. “What we’re discussing with the town now is 16 hours, 8 a.m. to midnight. After that, we become covered by the Bridgehampton [sector]. In the summer months, we would have an officer assigned around the clock.”

On Tuesday, Ms. Throne-Holst said the agreement offered to the village on Monday does not assign an officer exclusively to the village 24 hours a day. Rather, from midnight until 8 a.m. daily, the village will be covered by a sector car that will be patrolling the neighboring hamlets of Bridgehampton and Water Mill as well, but it will spend equal time in Sagaponack as in those other areas.

For the last two years, the town has assigned an officer to patrol the village streets from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The village has been part of the sector patrol for the other nine months.

In an interview last week, Mr. Louchheim had said that the board’s main concern was having year-round dedicated police patrols between 8 a.m. and midnight, when speeding and nuisance issues like noise complaints are most common.

Ms. Throne-Holst said she thought the village’s leaders would see the sense in the arrangement offered by the town.

“I think they can see that it is far better for them to have the town provide a cadre of part-time officers than for the village to try to provide a whole force, 15 officers or more, of entirely part-time officers,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “Frankly, that would be impossible to sustain out here, they would have turnover that would be unmanageable.”

Sagaponack residents last year paid some $2.3 million in police district taxes, accounting for about 10 percent of the Southampton Town Police Department’s total budget. If the village were to form its own police department, it could mean cuts to Town Police coverage.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that while the town has not calculated how much it will cost it to dedicate an officer to Sagaponack 16 hours a day year-round, it was certain to be a “tiny fraction” of the potential loss of $2.3 million in tax revenues. She said the issue of the additional shifts and use of more part-time officers will be part of the town’s ongoing contract negotiations with its police union.

Many Sagaponack residents at Saturday’s meeting were clearly not in favor of the idea of the village forming its own force, though there was widespread agreement that speeding has become an issue. Critics of the proposal said the village was being short-sighted in its cost forecasts for a village police department, which show savings of up to $1 million in each of the first two years of the department’s existence, and also worry about how the village’s withdrawal from the Town Police might affect coverage at its borders.

“We’re not Detroit, we don’t have a real crime problem here. I think the current policing works fairly well,” said Bill Tillotsen, the village’s former mayor, who was decked out in a top hat emblazoned with the slogan “No Sagg Cops” on Saturday. “We live in a bigger community. We live in the whole town. I don’t want to see money come out of the town budget that might someday make the parking lot at the King Kullen or hiking in the pine barrens unsafe.”

Hedges Lane resident Steve Gutman offered a similar comparison: “We pay taxes to the Hampton Library that I suspect are disproportionate to the number of books we lend, or the number of children we send,” he said. “We all shop at the King Kullen, we use all aspects of this community.”

Others said the costs were too foggy down the road, and the need too remote, to justify the risks of establishing a police department.

“I don’t want to see a policeman on every corner in Sagaponack—there are no issues here,” David Schoenthal said. “I don’t think all the costs have been fully thought out ... I’ve seen other municipalities where costs balloon out of control. Someone gets sick, you have replacement, there’s so many unexpected things that can go wrong that can only make costs go up.”

The Village Board has presented mock budgets for the creation of a police department under three different scenarios: a skeleton department that provides its officers only during the day and relies on contractually supplemented coverage the rest of the time; a department of part-time officers who cover all three shifts each day, year-round; and a department staffed with between four and six full-time officers. At a minimum the village would have to hire a chief, budgeted at $35,000 per annum, and at least two part-time officers. The village hired former Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. as a consultant to help draft the budgets.

Additionally, the mayor announced to the crowd on Saturday that if the village does decide to create its own police department it would also seek to create a village justice court, though he did not discuss what the budget implications of a court would be.

The board has said it will cast a final vote on formation of a police force at its next meeting on Monday, September 16. The village imposed the deadline so as to be fair to the town, which might have to draft its 2014 budget without some or all of the $2.3 million in taxes that Sagaponack residents contribute to the town’s police district funding if the village opts to form its own force.

A smattering of residents offered support Saturday for the village forming its own police department.

“The speeding issue is terrible,” Tinka Topping said. “It’s lethal. The kind of speeding around Daniel’s and Gibson [lanes] is scary. There’s an accident waiting to happen, so we do need to deal with that.”

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So glad to hear that the town and the village are working things out.

I'm not sure anyone anywhere can be completely satisfied with the level of police, or other services, they are getting. I think that the argument that they are not getting their fair share of police coverage for the taxes they pay is somewhat overdone. I believe that, that tax is based on the property values in the area and not on the number of households. If it were the latter, than obviously they they would be paying ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Sep 9, 13 12:49 PM
Don't be fooled people, the fix is in. The mayor is personal friends of the "controversial" if not "unscrupulous" William Wilson. He has promised Billy boy a police department of his own and everything you see is smoke and mirrors to make this happen. Good luck Sagaponack. Wilson will create chaos in less than one month as your new chief. They couldn't vote this weekend since 2 trustees would vote no and that would look terrible to create a police department with a split board. The mayor will pressure ...more
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 9, 13 4:12 PM
3 members liked this comment
Noyac to Sag Harbor PD next?
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Sep 9, 13 4:23 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Sep 9, 13 4:23 PM
Thanks editor. Don't know how that happened.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Sep 9, 13 4:45 PM
fuou812 are you a village resident? do you know the "Mayor" and do you know his plan of action? I think not. put out your credentials" or shut up
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Sep 9, 13 8:17 PM
Just look at the facts here. Any mayor who would accept figures from an uneducated and controversial ex chief who wants a job as the first chief of Sagaponack , either has his head in the sand or he is a personal friend. I know the latter to be true. If you were at the meeting, you heard the public express those very concerns only to have the mayor defend his pal Wilson. I see my truth has upset you so for your benefit, I will "shut up" for now and wait for my "I told you so" moment.
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 9, 13 9:18 PM
2 members liked this comment
I like where you're coming from fuou812. First off, if Sagaponack wants a study of what it will cost to have PD, they need to get a neutral party to do it. Not Willy Wilson who has an interest as the chief. Of course he will do everythingin his power to make the study of having a PD look so sweet and cheap. But ya'll know that never happens with unexpected cost. Buyer beware.The vote should go to the residents. Oh, and to Tinka Topping...If the speeding is really that bad, an accident waiting to ...more
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Sep 10, 13 2:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
you like where is coming from? This guy has it out for Wilson because Wilson wouldn't let the facts of crooked detectives work in his police department. Sorry that Wilson caught one of your buddies with his hand in the cookie jar and not doing his job but those are the facts. So now you come on this board like a typical cop and insult somebody's integrity. I don't know about you but I give Wilson a lot of credit for breaking the blue wall of silence and outing a bad cop.It is a privilege to be ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 10, 13 10:40 AM
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One assumes that the Village would comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity laws, especially as to advertising openings well in advance, if there is a new PD formed.

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 10, 13 11:20 AM
"Typical cop" you say????? First of all, I am not a cop typical or otherwise, secondly, my comments are directed at an obvious miscarriage of facts and figures given to the people of Sagaponack by the unscrupulous William Wilson. I see that you are a fan of this guy so I won't waste my time giving you all the facts surrounding his tenures in the village and the town police departments. However, this is about Sagaponack, not Wilson, and accepting figures from a potential employee is just plain dumb.
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 10, 13 11:28 AM
2 members liked this comment
Oakdale is a great town but I really do love visiting my family in Saggaponack. Thanks for asking. And by the way, they are very happy with the town police force.
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 11, 13 6:59 AM
You are full of it. You have a vendetta against Wilson all one has to do is check your posts. I doubt you even know where Sagaponak is.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 11, 13 7:35 AM
3 members liked this comment
And neither of you can spell it correctly!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 11, 13 2:54 PM
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Leaving Wilson out of this, the residents of the east end have a right to demand better police services. The one car that covers Sagaponack, also covers Bridgehampton and Water Mill. In addition that car has to pick up calls or back up the other pd cars in Southampton, North Sea, Noyac and North Haven. Why does the town have 3 full time cars east of the canal and 5-6 cars west of the canal. Throwing part time cars out east during the summer months isn't cutting it. Is this what it takes to increase ...more
By harbor hound (31), southampton on Sep 11, 13 10:01 AM
Near the bottom of the article, is this accurate?

"At a minimum the village would have to hire a chief, budgeted at $35,000 per annum . . . "

Wouldn't this be more like $235,000 per year, or is this to be a VERY part-time chief?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 11, 13 3:45 PM
Not if you already know that Wilson will be your first chief. He can only make 30,000 dollars by law if he keeps his lucrative pension. So it looks like a very very part time chief is in the works. And guess who that will be????? Remember, his figures are self serving and unrealistic. As you stated, a chief's salary would be much much higher. My goodness folks, see the forest through the trees here.
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 11, 13 5:27 PM
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Are the town board members going to be considered heros in this scenario? They are offering Sagaponack part time/seasonal officers. What is wrong with the PBA for allowing this to happen? Part time officers can only work 20 hours a week during the off season. What is the board threatening to take away from the PBA for them to support this? Are they threatenig the 20 and out again or to lay off officers in the already short handed department? PBR there is not any equal opportunity obligations, Civil ...more
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Sep 11, 13 7:19 PM
But within each Civil Service employment position (here, Chief) is not the Village bound by EEO laws to fill openings with the best qualified candidate? Is Mr. Wilson the only person on the Civil Service list who is qualified for the chief position? What about out-of-state candidates, who would only know about the opening if it is advertised?

Putting Mr. Wilson (or any other person for that matter) into the Chief's position without reaching out for other qualified candidates would invite ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 12, 13 6:54 AM
PS remember in 48 Hours when Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) deals with an unruly crowd, as Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) watches:

"There's a new sheriff in town . . . "
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 12, 13 6:58 AM
Nah..the "new sheriff in town..." is Cleavon Litlle in Blazzing Saddles...

I wonder about this 35K salary bit...Would any outside candidate apply for this position at that salary?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Sep 12, 13 10:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Of course not. Only someone who wants to guarantee that he is the only candidate would submit this as a possible chief's salary. Is it getting a little clearer yet? Wilson's figures guarantees him to be the only candidate that applies and he will gladly work "part time" as chief of Sagaponack while collecting his lucrative pension and enhancing his private security business. How many ways can we say "set up"
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 12, 13 10:58 AM
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Sure. But it would not impede another local "chief" to apply. I presume under the same set of circumstances Chief Overton or Captain Tenaglia could apply for the position if they were so inclined and still in the area?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Sep 12, 13 11:32 AM
Sure they could apply, but why would either of them work for 30,000 dollars when both of them are over 65 and not subject to the NYS retirement earnings cap of 30,000 like Wilson. This low balling of the chief's salary was no accident. It was Wilson's way to guarantee himself the chief's job plain and simple. Trust me, no retired chief is going to work for 30,000 dollars except Wilson. And he will do it only to expand his security operation, regain police powers for himself, and walk around with ...more
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 12, 13 12:34 PM
You are all missing the point here..Wilson was nothing more than a gun for hire, he offered Sagaponack all the Town's dirty little secrets so they could leverage them and get a better deal. Does anyone really believe that Wilson would work for 35k a year?? Get real.
By Disgustedwithyou (36), Hampton Bays on Sep 12, 13 12:32 PM
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Lots of towns and villages don't use an actual police officer to patrol streets at night. They use lesser-paid auxiliaries who can call police if they need backup. Lots of towns and villages also have civilian volunteers who take a training course from police and patrol the streets of their town or village at night because they are concerned about their communities.
By btdt (449), water mill on Sep 12, 13 2:55 PM
Really?? Name one TOWN or Village in NYS who conducts policing in that manner.
By Disgustedwithyou (36), Hampton Bays on Sep 12, 13 3:14 PM
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By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Sep 12, 13 9:06 PM
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nyuk nyuk nyuk :D
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Sep 13, 13 1:58 AM
There are many auxiliary police forces in Nassau.
Sep 15, 13 5:26 PM appended by Mr. Z
About 34, actually.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 15, 13 5:26 PM
Its smarter to contract it out before you get stuck with the munipal employee perk system. This is what is bankrupting the country and taking money away from needed servcies. The "mandates" a self perpetuating system guareenteed to keep us paying and paying. Just look at Detriot and Im sure there are many others. Something like 40cents on the dollar...
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Sep 13, 13 6:38 AM
If the board and the residents of the village are not satisfied with coverage provided by the town police, then they do have a right to study the formation of their own village pd. With all bias aside and no disrespect intended, I believe that they want a uniformed presence of their own to enforce vehicle and traffic law violations and handle quality of life issues such as noise complaints and village local law violations, as well as a 2 minute response time to residential home alarms. Do you ...more
By mwhite1502 (4), Flanders on Sep 14, 13 7:32 PM
To mwhite. Your post contains many good points for discussion. Although I don't disagree with your opinion on the village's concerns, I most certainly do disagree with your opinions about Wilson. Unlike you, I do know Wilson and as for his experience that you refer to, his tenures as chief of Southampton town and village were rife with turmoil and lawsuits. If you really think Wilson is "stepping up" to become the first chief, then you are drinking the cool aide. Wilson's interest in Sagaponack ...more
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 15, 13 9:20 AM
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What is the reach of the Suffolk County civil service system into the filling of the Chief's slot, assuming it is created, and does the answer depend on whether the position is considered an "employee" or "sub-contractor?"

Also, it seems interesting that the PBA does not seem to have gotten involved here. Any thoughts on this?

Could the new PD be entirely non-union, if the new employees so vote?

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 15, 13 3:13 PM
Villages and towns that create new police departments can by civil service rules hire any NYS certified police officer to fill the rank and file including chiefs. The key is the certification for retired police officers runs out after one year from his or her retirement date. Wilson's certification runs out in a couple of months so the mayor doesn't want time to run out on his pal Billy. Hence the rush.
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Sep 15, 13 4:14 PM
Thank you.

The national media will have a field day with this, in my opinion, if the Village fills the chief's slot in this manner, on a permanent basis.

It would be surprising if the Mayor wants to risk his legacy to be stained with such favoritism.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 15, 13 4:57 PM

NYS Police Officer certification is valid four years from the date of separation from service. After that a officer only needs to attend a refresher course to maintain certification. So, there is no rush on anyone's part. (Check it and then get back to me)

As for Wilson's tenure in SH Village and Town, the only onslaught of litigation was from those cancers that he ran off. You need to stop drinking your own toxic kool-aid.

Any officer hired must be within and ...more
By Disgustedwithyou (36), Hampton Bays on Sep 15, 13 5:16 PM
to PBR- yes the village can create a PD without a union. Muttontown did it in 2011, North Salem town pd in Westchester County is non union and several pd's upstate are non union. I know this because I have done studies on it and have family up there who are LEO's. There is nothing that says a pd has to be unionized, though it is within the best interest of a pd to create or join a union such as FOP, Council 82, Teamsters (yes, teamsters will represent PD's! Cooperstown PD- the baseball hall ...more
By mwhite1502 (4), Flanders on Sep 15, 13 7:42 PM
fuou812- thank you for seeing some of my points. i am not arguing with you. it appears that you know Wilson and have many gripes with him. That is fine. The village could have announced that they were going to hire Santa Claus for the chief's job and some people would have an issue with that, all I am saying is that some people are looking at this outside of the box. YES, it may be politics, OR maybe Wilson would get the job just based on his own merit and experience....the bottom line is that ...more
By mwhite1502 (4), Flanders on Sep 15, 13 8:01 PM
I agree with your assessment that Sagaponack will hire the person who they feel is best suited to serve their community. Wilson, or any other Civil Service Certified Chief, is exempt from further testing as he would have already successfully passed the NYS Chief of Police test with his former employer. NYS certified officers are eligible for hire part or full time as long as all Suffolk County Civil Service testing and requirements are met.
By Disgustedwithyou (36), Hampton Bays on Sep 15, 13 8:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you, mwhite, for the feedback.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 16, 13 7:15 AM
New article out.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 16, 13 5:41 PM
A few months from now..the town will pull the sector car they "promised" to Sagaponack to fill a more busier sector......it's a common practice and this village board will be back to the table discussing there own PD..........should have just formed own PD when they had opportunity.......
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Sep 21, 13 8:26 AM