Sag Harbor starts discussing police offers

Scene along Main St. in Sag Harbor with Scene along Main St. in Sag Harbor with the American Hotel in the background. Photo Credit: J. Michael Dombrowski

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Sag Harbor's growing controversy over the future of its police department heated up Tuesday night, as the village board began discussing offers from Southampton Town, East Hampton Town and the Suffolk sheriff's office to replace the 13-member force.

The village police budget for 2013 is expected to be about $2.3 million, which Mayor Brian Gilbride said the village can no longer afford.

"We don't have the waterfront mansions that other villages have," he said, referring to Southampton, Quogue and East Hampton, which also have their own police.

Gilbride is also considering trimming the department by half. Sag Harbor officials asked neighboring jurisdictions how much it would cost for them to provide services. Sheriff Vincent DeMarco's office has offered round-the-clock patrols for less than $1 million, while East Hampton offered police only for the part of Sag Harbor in its town. Southampton would add a full-time officer for the village and a seasonal second officer for less than $750,000.

Former Sag Harbor Mayor Pierce Hance, who came to the meeting, said the future of the village police department was too important to discuss behind closed doors. He demanded public hearings on the issue.

Gilbride said contract negotiations with the village PBA are ongoing and details cannot be discussed, but promised a full public discussion of the issue before taking any action.

"At the end of the day, it's about costs," the mayor said. "I don't mind if this room is full of people and we have meetings twice a month."

Gilbride said a typical village officer earns $108,000, but that with benefits and other costs, each position costs $182,000.

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