FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The village of Fort Edward has its own police department – but may dissolve it. This week, a village board meeting continued a conversation that began last year, following the resignation of a police chief involved in legal scandal. That’s only one reason.
“Fort Edward has had a very difficult time retaining officers for the last 5-8 years,” said Mayor Matthew Traver. “Part-time help has diminished significantly, and we cannot fill shifts. It was a very difficult decision for the board.”
As of Monday night’s meeting, the village is officially moving forward with the prospect of dissolving its police department. Over the next month, village residents will have a chance to file a petition opposing the decision. If no petition surfaces, local laws allow the board to implement a permissive referendum, which would then allow the village to abolish the department sometime in March.
Traver says that the elimination of the department could save the village $200,000 a year, which would mean new uses to be found for resident tax money. That’s sounded like a good deal to some residents, while others have remained skeptical, or at the very least mourned the loss of some paying jobs.
If the department is eliminated, Fort Edward would receive law enforcement support from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. The village has already been in the process of negotiating a deal that would commit a deputy to the village for as much as 20 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Former village Police Chief Justin Derway pled guilty last summer for false reporting of several hundred hours of overtime. Derway was investigated alongside Sergeant Dean Watkins. The two officers ran a police training program that was designed to take up 700 hours over 11 months – but filed double that number of hours, reported across over only three months. Watkins was found to have falsely filed 668.5 hours, and Derway 228 hours.