Department reports offer few details
By Michael Turton
Policing Cold Spring will cost village taxpayers $418,890 in fiscal year 2016-17. The fact that the Cold Spring Police Department (CSPD) accounts for more than 20 percent of village spending was raised as an issue during the March election campaign and was brought up again at the public hearing on next year’s budget held earlier this month. CSPD operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week with one officer on duty at all times. Additional officers are occasionally used during special events. The force currently includes 14 part-time officers, a practice that is less costly to the village because part-time employees receive no benefits.
Given the presence of Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputies, New York State Troopers and Metro-North officers in the village, some residents have questioned whether Cold Spring requires its own force. Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith routinely describes the county as the safest in New York.
Each week Cold Spring officers …
- Respond to 18 “calls for service”
- Write 14 parking tickets
- Write 11 tickets for moving violations
Averages based on 17 reports provided to the Village Board since July 2014.
To get a better idea of the responsibilities of Cold Spring’s officers, The Current examined CSPD activity reports submitted over the past two years to the Village Board by Officer-in-Charge George Kane, who has been with the Cold Spring force for 10 years.
The reports do not provide a great amount of detail. Compiled monthly, they include the number of “calls for service” and parking and moving violation tickets issued. Calls to the department could cover a wide range of situations, from loud arguments or music, disabled vehicles and cars blocking driveways to more serious situations such as burglaries, assaults and fires.
Reports were not submitted to the board for five of the 24 months examined. Calls for service were omitted from two reports and the number of moving violations was missing from one. Two reports provided the total for two months rather than one.
Despite the inconsistencies, the data provides a snapshot of police activity in the village. During the 19 months reported over the past two years, 1,311 calls were taken and 1,088 parking tickets and 748 summonses for moving violations were issued. That works out to a monthly average of 77 calls for service (2.5 calls per day), 57 parking tickets per month (about two per day) and 41.5 moving violations (about 1.5 per day). Moving violations were given consistently through the year, while parking tickets and calls for service rose in the spring and summer.
In the past, CSPD’s monthly reports included a detailed breakdown of calls for service, parking tickets and moving violations. That practice ended in January 2014. Current reports provide only monthly totals. It also is not apparent from the reports whether most of the activity takes place during the day or overnight.
Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy declined to comment on the CSPD reports but said policing would be discussed at the next meeting of the village board, which is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26.
1. The nature of each “call for service” is not specified in the department’s reports to the Village Board.
2. DNP = did not report
3. The department said no data was collected.
4. The report to the board included the total for this and the previous month; the totals given here were divided equally between the months.