Why does the Village Need More Permanent Police Officers?
April 14, 2008

The current Village Budget for its next fiscal year has allocated funding for two additional full time police officers to work with the existing two full time officers we currently employ. How will such expenditure benefit the Village community and our tax payers versus the less costly alternative of employing part time officers?

First and most importantly is the local knowledge that full time officers build up over time of the Village’s residents and its geography. Both of the other two Village emergency services [ambulance and fire] are dependent, particularly at night, for the Village Police to arrive at any scene first, leaving their vehicle lights on as a beacon for the arriving emergency service vehicles to hone in on. Ask yourselves not only how difficult it is for non-residents to find specific homes within the Park, but also how few homes have visible street numbers in obvious locations to assist first responders. Also, full time police officers come to know most of our Village residents over time to include Village children. This is enormously helpful in containing certain types of juvenile crime as well as helping officers resolve domestic dispute calls. Knowing a resident and having rapport with that individual can prove extremely useful across a broad spectrum of troublesome situations. Also, full time police officers over time learn the layouts of many of the Parks larger homes, which is also very helpful to first responders.

Second, it is a given in the work place that high turnover contributes to a breakdown in communication and poor morale. A two person police department with six to ten part time officers can hardly build a sense of team effort and accomplishment, particularly when there is ongoing turnover in the part time officer ranks. A four person department on the other hand, would afford the Village a much better work place dynamic than the current two person permanent force does. An additional benefit of having four full time officers relates to training. Currently, the entire burden of training part time officers falls on just our two full time officers. With four full time officers, not only will the burden be spread out over a larger full time staff, but the need to train part time staff will be meaningfully diminished.

The last point relates to the Town. Although it is rare for the Village Police to ask the Town Police for backup, it is not at all uncommon, particularly at night, for the Town Police to request backup from the Village Police. A rapid response by a Village Officer therefore requires reasonable knowledge of the Town roads in addition to the Village roads. As each of you knows, such knowledge only comes with time and repetition.
The downside to adding two more full time officers is cost. Full time officers will always cost more than their part time counterparts in terms of benefits, overtime pay, and mandated pay increases. Any Village administration can produce annual budgets with small increases simply by not replacing full time DPW or Police Officers who retire or leave, as has been demonstrated in the past. However, each of us as residents and tax payers have to ask ourselves, are we really safer when we replace a full time Police Officer with one or more part time officers? I think the answer is no, and that such an approach is penny wise and pound foolish. Time is the single most important factor for any emergency responder, and a knowledgeable Police Department is a time multiplier.

David du Pont

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