FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A week since the Village of Fort Edward held a meeting to discuss the future of its police department, the debate over potentially dissolving the small force continues. If the community votes for dissolution, the village would be policed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The village approached the Sheriff’s Office to come up with preliminary plans on what coverage in the area would look like if they moved ahead with dissolution.
“Whatever happens, it’s going to be a result of whatever the village is looking for,” Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy said.
Murphy outlined the agency’s preliminary plans at last Wednesday’s special meeting. Part of the plan includes adding four new deputies to patrol the village and surrounding areas.
“They don’t have a lot of calls for service, but they have enough where they definitely require a law enforcement presence dedicated to answering those calls,” the sheriff explained.
The addition of four deputies would double the full-time force the department currently has available. Currently there are three patrol officers, but one of them is deployed overseas.
With that limited staffing, the county has felt the squeeze of handling some calls that come in from the village.
“We’ve been answering calls with the manpower that we have, which is really kind of stretching us,” Murphy said.
If the village votes to dissolve the department, the three full-time officers would be taken on as deputies after completing the mandated training.
At a meeting Monday night, Mayor Matthew Traver said it’s been difficult to recruit officers, “There’s a lot of people who are not going into this business as much anymore. We’ve had a tough time getting officers, trained officers and then retaining them as well.”
There have been some concerns from members of the community about coverage. Sheriff Murphy says that’s something that would be a mandated part of a contract between the village and county.
“We certainly would not have that car go to the northern part of the county, or the southern part of the county,” he said.
Dissolving the department could save the village $200,000 a year. There’s still no timeline for a potential vote and officials say they’ll do what’s in the best interest of the community’s public safety.