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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dissolving Police Force Not Easy

Dissolving Sch'dy police force no easy task
WTEN - March 26, 2009
Mayor Stratton looks to dissolve Sch'dy's police dep't, but it wouldn't be easy  

Jobs could be changing for Schenectady police if Mayor Brian Stratton (D) has his way. He's discussing with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo dissolving the troubled city department and, instead, using a countywide police force. The Mayor says he's tired of scandal after scandal, including an ex-Police Chief being sent off to prison for selling drugs and cops convicted of federal corruption charges, so he's asking Cuomo what it would take to dissolve the department. The Mayor explained the extent he's willing to go, saying, "Whether or not there's an opportunity to combine all police departments in the county or to contract with the state police or with the sheriff." The County, however, says "no way". "What is needed are real solutions instead of politically expedient ones that pit one community against another," said Schenectady County legislature chair Susan Savage.

The Town of Niskayuna is also opposed. Supervisor Joe Landry told NEWS10 that if the Mayor has a problem within his own police department, then he should solve it. Rotterdam Supervisor Steven Tommasone also says "no" to the idea. "If there was a major incident in the city, where would the reserves be called - out of the surrounding towns?" Tommasone posed.  The city says the police union contract and state law make it difficult to fire the "bad apples", but dissolving the department would be difficult and expensive. "The payouts that would have to be made for unused sick time and unused vacation time would be too much for this city to handle all by itself," said Schenectady City Council President Mark Blanchfield. There is some state aid available to study consolidation, but not the kind of money the city would need to settle up with its police force. Incidentally, the Supervisor of the Town of Glenville, Frank Quinn, says he would be open to studying a possible merger. NEWS10 attempted to reach officials of the Schenectady Police Union, but they did not return our phone calls.

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