A study underway
By Jeff Simms
Officials in Beacon and the neighboring town and village of Fishkill have launched a study of their police departments to find ways to cut costs, including consolidation, without cutting services.
The study, funded by a grant from the Dutchess County Municipal Shared Services and Consolidation program and conducted by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, will include a number of forums to solicit public feedback. Its recommendations are expected in November.
“The thought is to look at efficiencies and cost savings,” said Beacon City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero. “If there’s a way to do things better, you want to explore that, especially with the tax cap.”
“The public always wants to make sure that they’re covered,” added Joe Czajka, Pattern’s senior vice president for research, development and community planning. “That’s the biggest thing. And Dutchess County made these funds available because they want to help municipalities save money as well.”
The study will consist of three phases — an analysis this month and next, followed by identifying ways the municipalities might work together, and then presentation of findings to Beacon and Fishkill officials. Czajka says Pattern researchers are currently collecting data such as the number of calls the three departments receive, response times, personnel and shift structuring and training opportunities.
In Beacon and Fishkill, the comparison is to some extent apples to oranges. The Beacon police force is a 24-hour operation with full-time officers, the town of Fishkill force is a 24-hour operation with part-time employees and police in the village of Fishkill — which sits inside the town — are part-time employees with part-time hours.
“Whether [consolidation] is possible is debatable, but we hope to gain some valuable information,” said Beacon Police Chief Doug Solomon. “We would be remiss to our constituents if we didn’t take a good, long look at things.”
At the very least, Ruggiero said, the study is likely to increase interaction between the municipalities. “That’s invaluable,” he said. “Better communication solves so many problems.”