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Aug 4, 2010 12:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town supervisor floats cop consolidation plan

Aug 4, 2010 12:14 PM

A proposal to consolidate Southampton Town’s various village police forces is being floated by Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst as a means to cut costs and share services—but village mayors say that while they’re open to discussing the plan, they doubt it will ever be realized.

In Ms. Throne-Holst’s vision, a consolidated Town Police force, one that would include the Westhampton Beach, Quogue, Southampton and Sag Harbor village departments, would cut back on several higher-paid salaries within the various police districts, while also striking up a potential to share resources, such as 
headquarters, vehicles and equipment. And that would result in a lighter tax burden for village residents to shoulder, she said.

“I think that we would be remiss if we didn’t at least come to the table and talk about what it might look like,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

Some village mayors, such as Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Conrad Teller and Quogue Village Mayor Peter Sartorius, said they would at least be interested in sitting down and discussing the idea. Mr. Teller said the notion of consolidating Village Police forces is not a new one.

“It’s always been a grand scheme of a lot of people, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, you have to sit 
down with a group and you 
have to plan it,” Mr. Teller said. “You can’t just arbitrarily 
throw away the police department.”

One of Ms. Throne-Holst’s arguments in favor of consolidation is to cut back on some of the higher-paid administrative positions, such as the chiefs. Mr. Teller, himself a former Southampton Town Police chief and Westhampton Beach Village Police chief, agreed with that 
point. “Hey, when I was a chief, I was getting $100,000, and I thought it was too high,” he said.

Out of the nearly $9.2 million in expenses for 2010-11, Westhampton Beach Village budgeted about $2.6 million for its police department, according to Village Clerk Kathleen McGinnis. The police officers salaries account for nearly $2 million of that. Mr. Teller said the 
police department is made 
up of 16 officers—with five sergeants, one lieutenant and one chief.

While Mr. Teller said he is open to the idea of discussing a consolidated Town Police department, he noted that the advantages of having a Westhampton Beach Village Police force—hyperlocalized coverage of 2.5 square miles—is a difficult level of service to replicate on the town level. But he also added that given the current economic climate, he admitted that the idea of consolidating districts has become more attractive.

“Now, hey, finances have changed considerably,” Mr. Teller said. “Would we save money? I don’t know. Would we gain something? It’s all got to be looked at and looked at with a skeptical eye. And I’m not knocking the supervisor or anyone else. It’s a good idea and something that should be looked at.”

On the other hand, Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley and Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride both said they are happy with their Village Police forces and would not be in favor of consolidating under one Town Police force.

“There’s no way they could provide the services to the citizens of the Village of Southampton the way that the current Village Police department does,” Mr. Epley said.

The Southampton Village Police Department covers 6.4 square miles. He noted that a townwide police force that would provide the level of service the Village Police already do might be an additional tax burden on village residents, who already provide tax revenue that makes up 18 percent of the town’s general fund.

“One of two things would happen,” Mr. Epley said. “Either the costs would increase and the services would stay the same, or the services would be dramatically less.”

Salaries are the largest expenses of the police force, and village mayors across the board agreed that the costs of their police departments are the largest expenses in their overall budgets.

According to Southampton Village Administrator Steven Funsch, about 46 percent of 
the village’s taxes go to funding the police force. As of the May 31, 2010, fiscal year, the village budgeted for about $6.1 million for its police force. Nearly 
$5.5 million of that number 
represents police officers’ salaries. That is excluding the 
state retirement program contribution, which amounts to $547,408.

Ms. Throne-Holst said she is merely putting the idea on the table in order to open the door for discussion. She said that it’s not possible to take a position on the matter without thoroughly exploring it. “I’m not necessarily taking a position in one direction or other,” she said. “No one can do that unless we’ve explored that.”

Southampton Town Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Pat Aube said when he spoke to Ms. Throne-Holst, he was under the assumption her idea was to form a municipal police force that would include the five East End towns of Southampton, East Hampton, Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island, as well as the villages in Southampton Town. According to that plan, Mr. Aube said towns and taxpayers could save money and share resources, such as staff, and buying in bulk for equipment and vehicles. He said the savings could be realized without downsizing staff.

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And the PBA's incentive to do this is...?

Nice talking point ATH "I tried to make a plan to cut the tax burden for police!" but there isn't a shred of practicability in this plan. Villages have their own police dept.'s because they don't like how Southampton Town Police were doing things and opted for their own forces. And if it lightens the tax burden on village residents, what are the odds it increases the tax burder on non-village residents?
Aug 4, 10 2:14 PM appended by Nature
Look up "Practicability"
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 10 2:14 PM
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 10 2:37 PM
From Merriam-Webster:


Function: adjective
Date: 1648
1 : capable of being put into practice or of being done or accomplished : feasible

By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 10 2:56 PM
The plan is indeed "practicable" because it can be carried out, or put into practice if the politicians and police would agree to do so. It is not, however, "practical" because it is not likely to be successful.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 10 3:19 PM
about time. put the annual pension cost on the table and let everyone be upset about it--the $100k+ year for the dispatcher downloading porn and getting a pension after 14 years is the least of it. next stop, tell me again why every podunk high school needs a $300k/year supervisor + a $250k/year principal?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Aug 4, 10 2:25 PM
3 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By uncleronk (136), southold on Aug 4, 10 2:30 PM
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 10 2:52 PM
Well it’s about time! Taxpayers can no longer afford the little ‘kingdoms’ that have been created on the east end. Consolidate and combine to provide more streamlined and effective services. Police/Schools/Village and Town services should be offered by one entity. Efficiency and cost effectiveness should be the rule of the day!!!!!
By March Madness (7), Southampton on Aug 4, 10 4:52 PM
3 members liked this comment
Anna is right lets put it on table and talk you never know if tax payers can save money why not
By john o (34), southampton on Aug 4, 10 5:17 PM
There's a reason that most of the villages were created, to get out from under the rule of the owns! Let the village residents decide, not the Almighty Anna.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 4, 10 5:45 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By john o (34), southampton on Aug 4, 10 7:08 PM
Lets really stir things up here.
She want to consolidate Westhampton Beach, Quogue, Southampton and Sag Harbor village police departments joining the Southampton Town Police under one department. What? And fire/retire the chiefs and captains.
Be careful Anna driving in any of the villages, they may arrest you for DWI.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Aug 4, 10 9:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
There you go ! The village police departments simply can't do the job.

Imagine having to arrest your neighbor? Worse, imagine arresting someone who is not your neighbor, you get back to the station house and it is the Chief's/Lieutenant's/Sergeant's, or Fellow Officer's - neighbor. In big departments these problems are minimized. In villages the officers learn to duck, don't make any arrests, don't solve crimes... otherwise you might have to make an arrest that could be detrimental ...more
By StopCorruption (19), Southampton on Aug 5, 10 7:27 AM
2 members liked this comment
It's about time!!! No need for all thesse seperate police departments!!! Too top heavy out here....SAME FOR THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS!!!! We should have a central school district too!!!!
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on Aug 5, 10 8:29 AM
I support consolidating as many departments as possible. For police we have five different levels of police at times: State, County, Sheriff, Town, and Village(s). So there's room for savings there. Giuliani did the same in NYC, consolidating police departments, and it worked well there. I suppose there will be savings in the Judicial system as well having full time salaried judges as opposed to the current system.

Once this is done, people have mentioned consolidating other services, ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Aug 5, 10 9:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
you forgot the "Bay Constables". who knows who they report to, what they're paid or what kind of pensions they collect?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Aug 5, 10 10:43 AM
I don't count them because there are so few and they are looking for different types of infractions. Although police could be doing similar type of code inspection work I suppose.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Aug 5, 10 10:57 AM
They report to the SHPD and are under their jurisdiction, however their budget comes from the Southampton Town Trustees (I think). They are paid well below what members of the police department are paid.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 10 2:55 PM
The Bay Constables patrol the bay waters, ocean beaches and bay beaches. Their work does not overlap Southampton Town Police Dept. work as they are looking for people driving on the beach without permits, not having boat ramp permits, rescuing stranded boaters in the bay (and in more rare instances, the ocean), enforcing bon-fire and other beach related codes and overseeing the pump-out boat operations. They also assist in finding illegal docks and bulkheads.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 10 2:57 PM
Actually their work does overlap as the town police enforce the no driving on the beach without permits as well.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Aug 7, 10 6:59 AM
Doesn't really affect me one way or the other -- the "police presence" in my neighborhood is almost non-existent.

Westhampton Beach should explore it if their police hearings don't straighten out that department, but Quogue would NEVER agree to consolidation!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 5, 10 10:40 AM
Local police and courts are revenue streams for villages. Villages will never give that up to the town. And while it probably would cut costs, you'd have to wait two hours for a town cop instead of just one.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Aug 5, 10 11:43 AM
There are many redundancies the way governments are set up as such we are paying the price in taxes. Certainly if the process could be more effecient if it were merged. Why stop at Police? Theres Highway, school districts, as well as the general government. We wouldnt need Village mayors, trustees, board members, attornies. Conceptually it sounds great but it also sounds very politcal, perhaps a referendum of the people could come from this. Maybe we could succeed from Suffolk Cty and become Peconic ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Aug 5, 10 1:14 PM
And Southampton Town is going to run all of this?

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it IMO."

[which in this case is a "broken" catchy phrase, because most of our governmental entities ARE broken, but trying to master-mind a consolidation of this magnitude is a pipe dream IMO.]

Why the smoke screen now? Similar to the smoke screen about discussing the MTA lawsuit in open session.

Careful, folks, you work for US.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 5, 10 1:34 PM
"Careful, folks, you work for US."


By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 10 2:58 PM
LOL, HAHAHA Trying to get the Village tax payers to fund the wreck of a Town Police. The Village Police Departements have home role and they like their local Village Police Departments. (Private security) And Frank, your right, the Village of Quogue is a very well run organization that would laugh at Anna's proposal. She's nervous anyway because North Haven and Sagaponack Villages are tired of Southampton Town and looking to employ their own Police Force. Nice try Anna, try downsizing Town ...more
By Yearround Resident (23), Southampton on Aug 5, 10 3:05 PM
Who will benefit from this in regard to taxes? Village or Town residents? It would seem to me that presently it is a bigger tax burden on the villages to run their own departments, so the villages would benefit more than the town. There is a reason village taxes are higher, and it's not just beach perks. If the villages residents want to pay for their own police, then let them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the service of the town police dept. If you think there is, try living in other ...more
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Aug 5, 10 5:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Everyone Bashes Everything From A to Z In Southampton Town. Police, Fire, The Milkman, Taxi's, Teachers But Your Still Living Here. Stop Making The Town a Soap Opera. If You Don't Like It MOVE OUT....
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Aug 5, 10 8:48 PM
Easy way out. Walking away, or running solves nothing.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 9, 10 11:30 AM
The villages will never agree to it.
By SHlocal12 (16), Southampton on Aug 6, 10 1:21 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By SHlocal12 (16), Southampton on Aug 6, 10 1:21 AM
For all the bashing of locals of the E.End towns and those that keep us safe and secure there is a lot of bashing as 1640s whaler stated... Biden HI! It seems you feel pretty safe to keep coming back weekend after weekend...and as for Anna...go back to your castle in Germany with your family....stop trying to change things in our towns....even Villeroy and Boch moved out ...most likely due to people like YOU!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 6, 10 4:41 AM
uscitizen, You are so filled with hatred and resentment that your message, whatever it may be, is entirely lost in your rantings. Try to contribute something positive to the discussion, just once.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Aug 6, 10 10:57 AM
before you start pointing fingers at others about their comments, read some of your own nasty un-called for rants. You really contribute. RIGHT!
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Aug 6, 10 8:33 PM
"To protect, and to serve."

Though they have always been there when I needed them, I still must say they have "serviced" themselves rather well.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 9, 10 12:31 PM
East end cops make huge money - no question. It also costs cops huge money to live here - also no question. Why limit this consolidation to police? Let's consolidate the fire departments and ambulances too - there are too many voters, I mean volunteers, for that to happen. What is the annual budget for a fire department on the east end? How many real structure fires are there annually? Does every department need a ladder truck and 2-10 engines? Isn't it cheaper to share resources than to continuously ...more
By Quoguer (8), Quogue on Aug 12, 10 7:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
id like to add firehouses to your list- i recently had occasion to visit the new Fire Palace on Ponquogue ave- they have a kitchen fit for a five star restaurant- must have run 200K for that setup. i don't ever recall seeing a kitchen at a fire scene.
how about opening up the books so we can see exactly what our money is being spent on?
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Aug 12, 10 10:07 PM