Silver Creek police items dominate discussion

SILVER CREEK – The Silver Creek Police Department has been the matter of much discussion in the village recently.

Last year, the department had three of its full-time officers quit before Sgt. Stephen Romanik left in January to join the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Kurt Lindstrom read another letter of resignation from Nicholas A. Pierce who served in the police department for five months before taking a position with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Resident Anna Frederickson spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to stress the importance of the police department in the village, despite a recent OBSERVER poll and an editorial in a Jan. 27 Publisher’s Notebook.

The editorial points out where there are high taxes and poverty there is crime.

“As a taxpayer I do not want crime,” she said. “In 2008 (the Silver Creek Police Department) had 3,140 calls for service compared to 2012 when we had 14,000 calls, that’s an increase of 400 percent.”

Frederickson points to conflicts of interest on the board as to why the department lost members.

“Because of conflict of interest between some members of this board and the department, three of our officers left because of the feeling they had no security in their jobs and no vote of confidence from this board,” she said.

She added while on the board she attempted to save the village money by looking into consolidation of the highway department and the court with the town of Hanover.

Trustee Amy Romanik responded to Frederickson’s comments and addressed a proposal from Police Chief Timothy Roche for eliminating the night shift due to understaffing. Romanik also suggested residents with questions ask the board instead of spreading misinformation from other sources.

She said she believes the village should have 24/7 police coverage because it is what the taxpayers pay for and the reason the department is understaffed is because it lost four full-time officers and has only hired one full-time and two part-time officers.

Roche responded to her comment saying he has repeatedly given recommendations for new officers but has been told there is not a consensus with the board to hire full-time officers at that time.

Trustee Thomas Harmon said the board hasn’t received any of the lists Roche claims to have given. Roche disagreed.

The board went into executive session for contract negotiations and personnel issues and returned to public session a half an hour later to appoint Justin Hyde, Robert Lazarczyk and Timothy Christian as conditional part-time officers. All three officers were previously employed by the village and quit last year to go to the Erie and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Offices.

While the board was in executive session the officers said they liked working in Silver Creek better than where they transferred.