Enough Police in Cold Spring?

Putnam legislator questions response to visitors

Nancy Montgomery, who represents Philipstown on the Putnam County Legislature, this week questioned whether Cold Spring has sufficient law enforcement to handle the crowds descending on the village despite social-distancing regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montgomery, the panel’s sole Democrat, raised the issue on Tuesday (May 5) at the Legislature’s monthly meeting, conducted via audio connection.

Even with the closing of nearby state park trails, the visitors “just keep coming,” she said. “Our Main Street was overrun” over the May 2-3 weekend, with many tourists failing to maintain a 6-foot distance, she said. She predicted the crowds would only grow.

“Our businesses need customers and our residents desperately need services,” but constituents also worry about their safety, said Montgomery, who on Saturday (May 2) distributed masks on Main Street with Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley, who lives in Philipstown.

(On Wednesday, Larry Burke, the officer-in-charge of the Cold Spring Police Department, said the Village Board has decided to close the bandstand and dock area as well as Dockside Park this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. because of a lack of social distancing by weekend visitors. The 10 a.m. closure is to allow residents to walk their dogs at Dockside earlier in the morning, he said.)

Cold Spring has only part-time officers and limited coverage from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, which has one patrol that covers Philipstown and one that rotates between Philipstown and Putnam Valley.

That level of policing “is not enough with the influx of people we see every weekend, in the thousands,” Montgomery said. “Law enforcement, both in the village and in the Sheriff’s Department, have way too much to handle.

“I’m asking for more enforcement,” she said. “I don’t want to see a resurgence of infection even before we fully understand what our Putnam outbreak is” with limited testing and contact tracing. “I’m reaching out to my colleagues for help.”

Her colleagues made no promises. But several expressed anxiety about the toll of the pandemic and restrictions, and praised residents for complying with the mask-wearing and social-distancing rules.


Legislator Neal Sullivan (R-Mahopac) added his voice to those of the Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and state Sen. Sue Serino in urging his colleagues to lobby Albany to not group Putnam with Westchester and Rockland counties in the plans to slowly reopen the state.

On Monday (May 4), Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to reopen region by region, based on certain criteria such as hospital capacity. Putnam is included in the Mid-Hudson region with Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties, its partners in the Mid-Hudson Economic Development Council.

COVID-19 Spending

In early April, the Putnam Legislature allocated $221,144 to purchase protective gear and cleaning supplies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday (May 5), Bill Carlin, Putnam’s finance commissioner, said the county has so far spent about $69,000 of that money, with commitments to spend another $77,000 as soon as more protective gear is available for purchase.

He said the county money has purchased 24,400 disposable face masks, 8,000 higher-grade face masks; 2,000 disposable gowns, 16,000 gloves and 1,300 face shields for distribution by the Bureau of Emergency Services.

Sullivan said the Legislature should tell state officials that “we don’t think Putnam belongs” with Westchester and Rockland.

“We certainly do not have the number of cases and the illnesses or deaths” of counties closer to New York City, he said. “It’s time to lessen the restrictions on our local businesses so they can go back to making a living and support their families.”

Legislator Paul Jonke (R-Southeast) said everybody in Putnam “is wearing their mask. Everybody is social distancing. Everybody gets it here. That’s one of the reasons we’re on track to get our small businesses back.”

Odell on Wednesday (May 6) wrote a letter to state Sen. Peter Harckham, who represents eastern Putnam, urging the state to divide the Mid-Hudson group, with Westchester and Rockland forming a southern section and Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties remaining in a northern section.

“While all cases of infections and deaths from COVID-19 are undoubtedly devastating, our numbers in Putnam County are exponentially lower than our southern neighbors’ and to a great extent have been isolated to our senior population with underlying health issues,” Odell wrote. “Therefore, we should be placed in a position where we should be allowed to safely reopen and move toward dealing with the immense economic toll this is taking upon our families.”

Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea, who has been critical of the county response, said in an email on May 7, “with the very limited number of residents that have been tested in Putnam, how can anyone say with surety that we don’t have a higher rate of infection than neighboring communities? Without large-scale testing, tracking, and a clearly articulated plan, this is bound to cause much more suffering.”

9 thoughts on “Enough Police in Cold Spring?

  1. If everyone wears masks, and keeps their distance from others, they should allow businesses to open, excluding large venues such as movie theaters, sports stadiums and churches.

  2. No, Cold Spring does not need more police or more excuses to keep us under an illegal and unconstitutional lockdown that was based on bad data and false “scientific” models that have been totally debunked and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be incorrect.

    We were led to believe that there would be high hospitalization and death rates, and consequent projected massive shortages of ICU and hospital beds which never came to be, even in the epicenter of New York City.

    The model from the Imperial College of London vastly overstated the supposed number of fatalities that were expected in the U.S. but that didn’t stop the president and the governors from nullifying our Constitution and declaring that we all must remain under house arrest for the foreseeable future.

    Nancy Montgomery, MaryEllen Odell and the other legislators are not scientists or epidemiologists — they are low-level politicians who don’t know the first thing about viruses or epidemics. The same is true for the mayor and Village Board.

    Instead of protecting their constituents and the stakeholders who make up the commercial tax base of Cold Spring and Philipstown, they have jumped on the COVID-19 crisis bandwagon and are playing it for all that it’s worth.

    This Great Shutdown at the hands of governors and elected and non-elected officials has destroyed the economy, large and small businesses, and the economic security of individuals and families. It has emboldened petty tyrants with dubious authority but mountain-sized swagger to issue ‘orders’ that control the lives and movements of American citizens.

    Microbiologists and immunologists have spoken out to say that the House Arrest for the Healthy (shelter-in-place) was unnecessary because this virus has a fatality rate similar to that of the seasonal flu, not the wildly exaggerated rates of the incorrect models. They pointed out that the mask and distancing protocols were also unnecessary and flowed from the unwarranted fear of high fatalities. They showed that the House Arrest for the Healthy prevents society from developing herd immunity and therefore extends the duration of the threat of the virus, and worse, that keeping people isolated from the virus and life weakens their immune systems and therefore renders them more vulnerable.

    We do not need more police or to ramp up this insanity any further. It is past time to end the lockdown and re-open Main Street before there are no businesses left to open. Our public officials, including everyone from Cuomo on down, took an oath to defend the Constitution. It’s about time that they did so and took their boots off of our necks.

    • This is a ridiculously alternate view of the actual reality, which is that hospitals are still not capable of safely handling current and future COVID-19 patients, that the virus continues to spread and kill across the local region and country, and that, for now, a return to life before the coronavirus is a death sentence for hundreds of neighbors. Please, The Current staff, don’t publish such dangerous lies without response.

      • Main Street businesses contribute zilch to my quality of life; the hoards of tourists and businesses catering to them made our lives miserable and that’s before coronavirus hit. The stores sell dusty crap, the restaurants serve overpriced and mediocre food and this village is run by people who let Main Street do whatever they want to.

    • Should village residents be left to fend for themselves and fear their own streets? Retail is just one component of “business” on Main Street. Another component is the wide spectrum of people who live and rent domiciles on side streets and in apartments above retail establishments. These village residents have a right to use their village amenities in a safe and responsible manner. They also have the right to be reasonably protected by local government from a recognized public health risk.

      Inviting hordes of tourists from surrounding areas creates a defacto “lock-down” situation for village residents, who are rightfully concerned about their own health or the health of their families. The blanket dismissal of global health advice by some gives me less confidence in an orderly reopening of Main Street, not more. It is the rampant dismissal of public health risks by a small subset of the population that puts all residents of the village at risk. Visitors who are wantonly strolling the streets, without masks, are striking fear in the hearts and minds of well-meaning village residents, threatening village life as we know it.

  3. My goodness. Thanks, Aaron, for speaking up. It is amazing the disinformation that is out there. The hospital I work in (in the Bronx) did have to scramble to create new ICU capacity. The nursing home attached to our facility is currently having a new outbreak among staff and residents. I understand the restrictions have been challanging on many levels for us all. But let’s try to keep with the facts.

    Regarding more police, I am not sure that is the best approach. Increased signage at the train station and on Main Street would be one step to initially try. As we move forward, reopening is going to require education, access to ‘social PPE’ and adjustments by all of us. We will all have to learn to live in a new reality. We can be free and economically successful and self-disciplined. Jumping to more police is a bit reactionary.

  4. Hiring is easy if one has funds. Rehiring when not needed is much less easy — and usually expensive. Why not consider hiring vetted high school students and provide them some basic training in crowd management? Call them into service on weekends, holidays or otherwise as needed. It’s a much friendlier solution and pro-vides incentive to youth. The public would probably accept and be impressed with such an approach.

  5. I understand everyone is frustrated, but I popped by Cold Spring a few weeks ago and it was overrun despite most everything being shut down. No one was maintaining distance and hardly anyone had masks.

    If everyone complied for just two weeks, we could get past this phase and reopen some things. But hospitalizations are going up again. So here we are: Status quo. Other countries don’t have this red-versus-blue animosity and name-calling, and their people are complying and now they are reopening things.

    It is a selfless act to sacrifice for someone else’s life. Start sentences with, “What do you need?” instead of “What do I want?” [via Facebook]

  6. There needs to be more of a middle ground. We can still accept the virus as dangerous but have fewer restrictions. COVID-19 will not disappear from the world anytime soon, but adults need to accept some risk for their own mental health and sanity and be allowed to make their own choices. The health care system isn’t on the cusp of collapse.

    Everyone is turning this into political nonsense. Instead of calling people out for being too far to the right or too far to the left, meet in the middle. A lot more will get done. It may not be 100 percent how you want it, but what in life is? I thought being American meant you had certain freedoms and rights — one being your right to think for yourself. [via Facebook]