Updated: January 10, 2020 02:32 AM
Created: January 09, 2020 05:10 PM
COEYMANS - Dozens of people packed into Coeymans Town Hall on Thursday night to talk about changes being made to police staffing there.
Budget constraints have led to part time shifts being cut back, but a new agreement with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department will actually double the number of patrol cars on the road each day.
Sheriff Craig Apple agreed to put a total of six deputies in Coeymans in exchange for office and parking space for a substation there. The agreement will save the town $280,000 but it will also cut eight to 10 part-time shifts per week for town officers.
Coeymans Police typically staff five patrols per day, but under the new agreement with Albany County, they’ll reduce staff to cover three patrols per day. No officer positions have been eliminated though.
Between the two departments, nine patrols will now be on the road each day.
The town isn’t paying any additional fees for the services the sheriff’s department is now providing. Some people who spoke at the meeting on Thursday called increased patrols at no additional cost a win-win.
"If we are not spending any more money, if we are increasing our patrol, especially in this day and age, I don't see why it's a bad thing,” one resident said Thursday night.
Others were concerned eliminating eight to 10 shifts per week could put a strain on part-time officer's finances.
"They count on that for a living, so whether you're going to let them go or keep them you're going to lose some of them just by doing this,” one critic said.
Some people believe putting new officers on the street could affect community policing because residents need to be able to recognize the officers.
"The officers from the Coeymans police force will stop by the library when we haven't called them. They know the kids, they've been a tremendous resource,” a local librarian said. “I can't say enough good things about them. And while I respect for the sheriffs, I've never seen a sheriff's officer swing by the library just to see how things are going."
Others were concerned about sheriff’s deputies leaving Coeymans to respond to calls in other parts of Albany County.
Apple said if that happens, his deputies in surrounding areas, like Bethlehem, will shift to cover the area.
Others said they're concerned the cuts could lead to continuous “chipping away” at the police department's operating budget.
Coeymans Town Supervisor George McHugh said he's going to do his best to make sure that doesn't happen.
"We will get this budget issue resolved as quickly as possible and do our best to take action on what is most important here; which I think is Public Safety in maintaining our own Coeymans Police Department as well,” McHugh said.
The agreement went into effect immediately after McHugh and Apple signed it at the meeting Thursday night. McHugh said it's written so that they can evaluate how things are going in a few months and if they decide to go back to the way things were, they can do that with ease.
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