Sheriff James Bowen Saratoga County N...

Sheriff James Bowen Saratoga County New York

Posted in the Bennington Forum

Real Vermonter

Boston, MA

#1 Dec 14, 2008
Check out a well known story about how Saratoga County New York Sheriff James Bowen proposed at Town of Waterford Supervisor Lawler's request that the Town of Waterford, New York investigate abolishing the police department then having the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department obsorb Waterford's officers and provide equal law enforcement coverage for Waterford at a savings of $500,000.00 per year!
Anyways there was a vote in Waterford and approximately 60 percent of the eligible voters turned out for the ballot and the voters rejected the proposal in a binding referendum for a number of identifiable, but non‐measurable reasons. They include :
(1) comfort and satisfaction with the existing police department
(2) skepticism that the projected cost savings would actually occur
(3) concerns crime would increase
(4) concerns there would no longer be a police sub‐station accessible to the public, which proved effective for crime victims in the past
(5) beliefs that centralized dispatching would result in sending deputies unfamiliar with Waterford’s confusing local street names (e.g., 1st Street, 1st Avenue) to the wrong location
(6) concerns that police officers and dispatchers would lose accrued seniority, benefits, or other perquisites
(7) beliefs that the scope of services provided by the sheriff’s office could not be as extensive as existing services (e.g., helping senior citizens in their home and knowing where each senior citizen lives)
(8) beliefs that property values are related to the existence of a local police department
(9) concerns about policing approaches the sheriff’s Office could not employ (e.g., community policing)
(10) beliefs the State Troopers, currently providing backup, would be better than the county sheriff
(11) concerns about consolidation of political power by the sheriff
(12) concerns about the fairness of considering such a proposal in the constrained decision‐making context of ongoing contract negotiations between the town and the police officer’s union—perhaps a veiled attempt at union busting
(13) beliefs that the town could augment intergovernmental grant‐in‐a id policing funding to offset future cost increase projections
(14) the absence of angry taxpayers demanding that officials make drastic changes to save costs and the limited actual savings to taxpayers (i.e., approximately $120 per household, according to flyers distributed by the “Concerned Citizens” group)
(15) the desire to avoid surrendering local autonomy in an important function to an outside agency that might be less responsive
(16) the sense of residents that local police know who the trouble makers in the community are and have built a network of locally‐based crime informants
Real Vermonter

Boston, MA

#2 Dec 14, 2008
Looked great on paper and if it could work that would be a wonderful thing for the taxpayers of Bennington! Judging by the buildup of the traffic division of the Sheriff's Department and past contract negotiations and actions with other towns in the county I can see where Bennington County Sheriff Gary Forrest might make on his own or at request of the town a similar proposal to the Town of Bennington in the near future!

The problem is what record does the Bennington County Sheriff's Department law enforcement other than motor vehicle law enforcement? I know they all get the same state approved training but what is their real life experience with other types of law enforcement? A quick check of the 2007 and earlier crime stats didn't turn up anything for the Bennington County Sheriff's Department! Is patroling the roads, writting tickets and citations for motor vehicle violations, directing traffic, serving process and transporting prisioners all they currently do?

If this issue comes up in the future the taxpayers and eligible voters should think about what might have happened in Waterford, New York is this change had actually taken place!

Do you want police with little or no real life history of law enforcement other than motor vehicle law enforcement attempting to provide safety and protection to you?

Bennington, VT

#3 Dec 14, 2008
Well I'm not too sure what else the Sheriff's do, but by judging I'd say they do a lot. Patroling roads means they keep impaired or dangerous drivers off the road. Directing traffic, gee I think I rememeber the outage at Benmont Ave this summer, Sheriff's at the intersections, serving process, to me that's justice in motion if they aren't served they can't be expected in court, and transporting prisoners...look at the overtime it would cost agencies to move their prisoners, To me the Sheriff's are an important part of the judical process, eventhough taxes are way up, could we imagine if the agencies around the state had to move prisoners???

Bennington, VT

#4 Dec 14, 2008
Beverly Mass? Yea you must know the day to day operation of the Sheriff's Office.
Real Vermonter

Boston, MA

#5 Dec 14, 2008
OldTimer - It would not be just about the taxes though likely a good share of the taxpayers would feel that way! There are a lot of other factors to consider! If you don't consider them all you're not being fair to yourself or anyone else! What the Sheriff's Department does is very important but currently what they do is limited! Along with the other things listed, they also have School Resource Officer's who have other duties, a Deputy assigned as an investigator with the States Attorney’s Office who does just that, a Deputy assigned Vermont Drug Taskforce and deputies assigned to the court who do just that. The traffic officers also make documented security checks of certian businesses! I don't know if BCSD gets paid directly for this but there must be some reason they document them! BCSD has a lot of officers but only have the divisions as stated above! Besides the Deputy assigned as an investigator with the States Attorney’s Office and possibly the Deputy assigned to the Vermont Drug Taskforce I don't believe there is any other Deputy assigned to criminal investigations! The Deputies who do traffic enforcement I don't believe do any criminal investigations not related to traffic enforcement! Lets just say that the BCSD which has been around since 1781 is not as well rounded as the Bennington Police Department which has only been around since 1856! BCSD had stumbling blocks over the years but they have had time to recover and become a full time full service law enforcement agency! They have not and thats the part that really bothers me! If I was to vote in this scenario after absorbing all the info I would vote to keep the Bennington Police Department for many of the same reasons the voters in Waterford voted to keep their police department!

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