Posted at: 09/24/2012 11:29 PM
| Updated at: 09/25/2012 12:17 AM
By: Dan Bazile
COEYMANS -- The crowd was so large, the town hall in Coeymans wasn't enough to hold them all. Residents came to voice their concerns over the possible consolidation of their police department.
"Please don't take this away from them. We need this as a taxpayer and a community. We need these guys," town resident Alice Southwick said with tears in her eyes.
And others, like the PBA spokesperson and Coeymans Police Investigator Gerald DeLuca, boiled it down to 47 cents a day.
"Does anybody believe that public safety is not worth 47 cents a day," said DeLuca.
Residents heard details of the plan to get rid of their town police force from Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. The proposal calls for the county sheriff's department to cover the town with dedicated officers. The town would lose five full-time and twelve part-time police officers and thirteen civilians.
"Whenever you have a consolidation, it's safe to say there's a cost savings," Apple said.
The savings would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Apple. It's exactly what town supervisor Stephen Flach said he was trying to achieve.
Some in the crowd suggested the idea was motivated by politics after police made some arrests that involved school board members and their families. Residents said one of the incidents was connected to Audrey Toussaint, the only person in the meeting who didn't speak against the proposal.
"I'm just asking you and the community to keep an open mind," Toussaint told the crowd.
But it seems many residents have already made up their mind because they believe their safety may be at risk.
"I know for a fact that public safety would be affected by the abolishment of this department," police chief Greg Darlington said.
There isn't a formal proposal yet. But if one came up, the town board would have to vote on it. If they agreed to get rid of the town police squad, the measure would then be put up for a public vote.