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Mayor wants payment for policing of neighbors

January 18, 2012
WESTFIELD — Police service costs too much to give it away for free. That was the message Village of Westfield Mayor David Carr had during the village’s December Board of Trustee meeting. The debate over village police also covering the Town of Westfield was started back in November when Carr reported to the board he had sent a letter to Westfield Town Supervisor Martha Bills requesting that the town increase its payment for police coverage incrementally from $10,000 to $70,000 in the next few year. At the December meeting, Carr reported Bills had offered to pay $15,000. The original agreement, which was put in place 18 years ago, was for Westfield police to cover Barcelona. Over time, police have ended up covering the entire town. In addition to covering the Town of Westfield, Carr reported that, in 2011, Westfield police have responded to 25 calls in the Town of Chautauqua, 102 in the Town of Ripley, 16 in the Village of Brocton, 22 in the Village of Mayville and 65 in the Town of Portland. This total 230 incidents which Carr compared to 233 in 2010 and 191 in 2009. “With the cutback in the … sheriff’s department, it’s not going to be getting better,” Carr said. “We’re going to be getting more calls.” Because of this, Carr has sent a letter to the supervisors and mayors for the above municipalities with the purpose of setting up individual meetings with each of them to come to a consensus and see what kind of police coverage they are interested in from Westfield and what they are willing to pay for it, followed by a group meeting. “I don’t think that the Village of Westfield should be furnishing police service to these municipalities without some repayment,” Carr said. “If nobody is willing to pay, we’re not going there. We can’t afford it.” In addition to the time it takes to respond to a call, Carr said, there are other responsibilities the officer may have including a visit to the hospital, paperwork and time in court. “When our car leaves the village, we’re not protected,” Carr said. “Their primary responsibility is the village of Westfield. It’s not all the rest of these places.” “I just don’t think that the village taxpayer should be subsidizing the cost of police services … for these other villages and towns,” Village Trustee Dave Brooker said. When Carr asked if anyone had any comments, audience members took the opportunity to voice their opinions. One audience member said he does not think $15,000 is enough. “We don’t need to be patrolling Route 5 for the Town of Westfield,” he said. “$15,000 doesn’t even make a dent.” A second audience member agreed and brought up the Town’s purchase of a parking lot in Barcelona and a beach cleaner which hardly get used, saying if it has the money for these purchases, it can afford more for police coverage. A third audience member also agreed with the previous two. “I thoroughly agree they’re way out of the ballpark on this,” she said. Carr asked for the board’s blessing to continue negotiating with the other municipalities, and it was granted. Village Clerk Vince Luce asked for clarification that Westfield police would still respond to emergencies in those municipalities but not patrols. “I’d just as soon not until we get some kind of agreement,” Carr said. “The original agreement of $10,000 was to check on Barcelona. For $15,000, we can check on Barcelona.” “I thought where we were heading with this was if there was an emergency, whether we’ve agreed contractually or not, we’re still going to respond, but then we’re going to start billing you if we don’t reach an agreement with the Town,” Luce said. Village Trustee Rob Cochran asked Westfield Police Chief Robert Genthner if Westfield Police could respond to a call, but wait there until the sheriff arrived so that Westfield officers would not have any further responsibility with the case. Genthner started to respond by saying it depended on how busy the sheriff’s department, but Mayor Carr interrupted him saying the problem is the sheriff does not respond and that apparently after Jan. 1 they will not have anyone to respond. “I’d like to come up with consensus with the other municipalities … if they want our protection and our services and what they’ll pay for it,” Carr said. The topic was left there. In other business, the board approved the plan for up an upgrade to the facing of 15-17 North Portage Street, passed a resolution that no employee can be hired where their relative is a supervisor with a wavier that can be requested if there is a lack of qualified applicants and passed a resolution for the State Department of Transportation agreeing to put a highway it works on back to the same condition when it is done. Carr publicly thanked Marilyn Hemmer and the Westfield Beautification Committee on the Victorian Christmas decorations they had as well as the ladies who decorated Eason Hall for the Charity Ball. “They both did a spectacular job,” Carr said. He also thanked the electric department for the lights display in Moore Park, adding he had received many positive comments.

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