East Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The Village of East Syracuse is looking to dissolve its police department to save money. The village board approved a referendum Monday allowing its residents to make the final decision.
Many feel it’s a matter of safety versus money. The mayor says the savings would equal roughly $249 per $100,000 of assessed value for homeowners, but many people say it’s not worth it.
It was a packed house at Monday’s meeting. Some listened, while others let their voices be heard as trustees prepared to vote.
"It’s not worth anything that I as a homeowner would save financially to lose the guys and the girls that watch our kids everyday,” said village resident Tracy Eves.
As part of the plan, eight part-time officers would be eliminated. Six full time positions would be absorbed by the Town of DeWitt to help with patrols. The village chief would be out of the mix.
"Our response time is 1.1 minute and that is through the county data, so I can't see how it’s going to get lower than that,” explained East Syracuse Police Chief Don Morris.
Response time is a hot-button issue; others pushed a sense of personal connection with the local force.
"The police officers here, they know our names. They know our kids. They know where we live. They know the criminals. They know where they are,” said Kim O’Brien, member of a group called Friends of the East Syracuse Police Department. "It’s taken them years to be able to educate themselves on that. It's just not going to be the same."
On the flip side, the issue of expenses remains.
"Make the cuts. If they have to eliminate part-timers, if they have to eliminate positions to keep the East Syracuse Police Department intact, then we should talk about it and do so,” said another person at Monday’s meeting.
East Syracuse Mayor Dan Liedka says, “The costs just continue to escalate. Healthcare...12 percent rise each year for the past five years. It is just not sustainable. So, even if we generated more money, you'd have to generate almost three-quarters of a million dollars, just to keep status quo."
All but one of the trustees voted to pass this on to a referendum, which means the public will make the final decision. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, October 16 from noon to 9 p.m.
If the dissolution is approved by voters, it would take effect on January 1.