Silver Creek board rubber stamps sheriff’s coverage

SILVER CREEK – Despite many residents’ protests, the Silver Creek Village Board authorized the mayor to sign an agreement Monday night with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Nearly 30 residents crowded the village board meeting to try to convince the board that losing the local police department was a bad decision.

Matt and Karen Bogosian said they chose to live in Silver Creek because they thought it was a great place to raise a family. Mr. Bogosian asked the board to look at what this will mean for the village long term.

“A countywide police department cannot possibly provide the same service that our local police department could, just as a local police department could not properly provide countywide service. There are differences, it is not a matter of competence, there are differences. These differences are significant to us as they affect our quality of life. This is a community-changing decision,” he said.

“While I have heard some talk around town that this may save us money, I see no evidence it will. Maybe short-term it will save a little but quite possibly none at all. Long term, however, I am confident it will cost us more. We need to look ahead at the big picture. Responsible budget planning absolutely needs to include careful consideration of how decisions today affect the future,” he said.

Anna Frederickson said once the village contracts with the sheriff’s, and there is only one bidder for police coverage, the only way to control costs will be to eliminate services and that the cost to start a local police department later may be prohibitive. She also said the decision should be one for all residents to make, not just the five board members.

Sandra Harris Lindstrom pointed out the inconsistencies in information surrounding the topic. She said first residents were told the sheriffs were covering shifts because the village police were understaffed, but then it was learned officers were given pink slips and the sheriffs were taking over coverage of the village. She also pointed out the village police should not have been understaffed because there is a list of trained officers waiting to be hired. She said the village is able to utilize the special taskforces of the sheriff’s office without a costly contract and these inconsistencies from village officials are “disheartening.”

Paul Bogosian said maintaining local control of police coverage is a better way to control costs, but if money is the issue, the board should forfeit its salary to compensate. He said before getting rid of the police department the board should consider becoming a board of “elected volunteers,” like the school board, and return the $26,000 in salary it collects every year.

Bill Maecker pointed out the village paid over twice what the department of public works building was assessed at and that that money is significant when the discussion about going to the sheriff’s is about money.

One resident, Anthony George Borrello, disagreed with others, thanking the board for their common sense and saying he appreciates what the board is doing.

The village board voted unanimously, with Trustee Ben Peters absent, to authorized the contract with the sheriff’s office retroactive to June 1.

The board also approved a resolution to retain Chief Timothy Roche as a consultant on a per diem basis until June 26 so the record and inventory process can be completed.

The board approved a resolution to offer the police department to the sheriff’s office to monitor and review the security cameras for the village square and park.

The Chautauqua County Legislature is expected to act on the sheriff’s coverage contract with the village this week.

The board went into executive session for a personnel matter before the mayor’s or board comments were heard. The board will next meet on July 1 at 7 p.m.