Town urges Sagaponack to rethink police idea

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Southampton Town officials urged Sagaponack's leaders Thursday to rethink forming their own police department because it might cost more than they anticipate.

"It will not help taxpayers in any part of the town to create a new police department," Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. She said contracts for other services, such as dispatch and detective work, still would be needed.

Sagaponack's board of trustees decided earlier this week to hold a public hearing in August to discuss forming a department or partnering with another police agency.

Mayor Donald Louchheim said Monday the village, which pays the town $2.3 million a year for police service, does not receive its due share of patrols and could save money by going it alone. Additionally, he said Southampton Town's police force is spread too thin to do the community-oriented policing village residents want.

Sagaponack's contribution represents more than 10 percent of the police department's total annual budget of about $21 million a year.

Throne-Holst said she and Chief Robert Pearce plan to meet with Louchheim before the Aug. 10 public meeting. She said they are "happy to revisit" the existing police enforcement agreement.

Former Southampton Police Chief William Wilson Jr. has helped Sagaponack prepare some of the analysis, which Louchheim said would save between $500,000 and $1 million a year. Louchheim has not released that analysis and did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Southampton Comptroller Leonard J. Marchese cautioned that police costs can escalate from incidents such as lawsuits and injuries to officers on the job. "Quickly in a few years what seems like a good deal at the time isn't," he said.

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