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Park police union says there aren't enough officers to cover expanded SPAC season

May 22, 2019 12:27 AM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Some of SPAC's shows are legendary. Many draw tens of thousands of fans to listen and see their favorite musicians in their favorite summer venue.

Over the past eight or nine years, SPAC has scheduled more concerts each year.

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As of Tuesday, there are 33 special events or concerts scheduled this year -- the most ever. That presents more challenges for the police charged with keeping concertgoers safe - the State Park Police.

NYS Park Police Captain Michael Cappuccilli says covering concerts sometimes requires bringing in park officers from other areas.

"Because we are a state agency, we are able to move and deploy as needed across the state. Not only for concert venues, but for emergencies and natural disasters."

However, the union representing park police officers paints a different picture. They say even when officers come in from outside areas, there aren't enough.

"It is an officer safety situation because of the sheer numbers," said Troy Caupain, director of the union representing park police officers.  "You're talking about one officer for every 2,000 people on average in most of those shows. That's a very bad ratio."

To make it worse says Caupain, park police officer staffing in the Saratoga-Capital Region is already at an 18-year low.

So the state will have to pull its officers who normally patrol Thacher, Grafton, Moreau and 10 or so other state parks and venues so they can cover a record number of concerts, leaving some facilities without coverage by the officers who are most familiar with them.

"The biggest problem is the outlying parks because when they staff the shows each night, what they're doing is taking away from basic everyday patrol. So that leaves maybe one officer to now provide those police services for all of those parks," said Caupain.

Dan Keefe, a spokesman for state parks, says via email, "...the idea that parks have no coverage is false. Park Police work with other state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure coverage at our facilities."

SPAC's 2019 special events season begins Saturday with a performance by Chris Young.

Credits

Mark Mulholland

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