Wappingers Falls Disbands Police

Consolidation with sheriff could save $582K

By Chip Rowe

The Wappingers Falls Village Board of Trustees voted 5 to 1 on Aug. 30 to disband its police department and enter into a shared-services plan with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office.

The move is part of a larger initiative, ordered by the state of New York, compelling counties to consolidate services. County executives have a Sept. 15 deadline to submit their plans.

The Dutchess County plan outlines 37 projects, including the Wappingers Falls-Sheriff’s Office deal, that it projects would save taxpayers an estimated $15 million in 2018 and $12.5 million annually thereafter, saving each homeowner about $118 annually in property taxes.

The Wappingers Falls Police Department could be disbanded in January unless opponents can get the measure on the November ballot. (Photo provided)

Disbanding the Wappingers Falls department and creating a smaller force of full-time officers is expected to save the village $582,000 annually, with the police budget dropping from $1.49 million to $906,000. The move would take place in January, although opponents have until Sept. 29 to gather enough signatures from registered voters in the village to put the issue on the November ballot.

To encourage counties to consolidate services, the state has promised to match, with grants, any savings achieved through consolidation. In the case of Wappingers Falls, for example, Dutchess County could receive a matching grant of $582,000.

Proposed Consolidations

Dutchess County has proposed 37 projects to consolidate services. This list includes those that would involve Beacon, and the projected total savings in 2018 for the county and municipalities involved.

Road salt bulk order ($608,132)

Street paving materials bulk order ($200,121)

Highway equipment rental ($27,685)

Electronic communications and outreach ($229,071)

Microsoft 365 administration ($9,887)

Website administration ($83,465)

Public safety software ($98,700)

Worker’s compensation insurance pool ($3.74 million)

Police drug task force ($3.5 million)

Police crisis intervention training ($106,500)

Sports field infield mix bulk order ($14,500)

Sports field permanent lines ($168,240)

Wappingers Falls has 27 part-time and one full-time officer, as well as dispatchers and a part-time commissioner. As part of the shared-services agreement, the sheriff’s office would provide two fulltime patrol officers from 8 a.m. to midnight and one officer from midnight to 8 a.m. It also would relocate its Zone 4 office from the Hudson Valley Regional Airport to the village.

As the Aug. 30 board meeting ended, an officer yelled: “Thanks for laying us off!” Members of the Wappingers Falls force have established a website to gather support to save the department, arguing the board wants to hand control to “outsiders.”

If the plan takes effect, Wappinger Falls would join a list of 12 towns and three villages that have contracted with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services, including Pawling, Rhinebeck and Wappinger.

Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, based in Newburgh, recently completed a study for Dutchess County that evaluated whether Beacon and the village and town of Fishkill could consolidate their police departments. A plan to consolidate Beacon’s three firehouses is included among the 37 projects proposed by the county, with a projected annual savings of $135,000 beginning in 2019.

6 Responses to "Wappingers Falls Disbands Police"

  1. Patty Villanova   September 8, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Very smart move all around. Consolidation is the way of the future. Anything else is simply not sustainable by the taxpayers. Cold Spring take note.

  2. Michael Bowman   September 8, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Smart move on Wappinger’s part, but this article would have been more informational if it cited our current Cold Spring circumstances, where the Village is patrolled by upwards of 16 part-time Village officers, the Putnam County Sheriff, the MTA Police and the New York State Police.

  3. Armanda Famiglietti   September 8, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Putnam County should learn from Wappingers Falls. Are there any candidates who are serious about consolidation and reducing taxes in Putnam? School district administration consolidation would be a good start.

    • Patty Villanova   September 10, 2017 at 8:18 am

      As far as I can see, there are no candidates for local office that will stand up for the taxpayers. Consolidation of our local school districts would save us millions but that will never happen because the unions are too powerful. We have some of the highest-paid teachers and administrators in New York state (and probably the U.S.) and they are not going to give up those nice salaries and benefits without a fight.

      Sad to say that I have been working as a taxpayer advocate for over 30 years and, if anything, people around here have gotten more apathetic. I don’t know about your district, but in Putnam Valley less than 1,000 people who came out to vote on a school budget that was almost a whopping $50 million! If they don’t care enough to vote on our biggest tax expenditure, what hope is there?

  4. Stephanie Hawkins   September 11, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    If the Poughkeepsie Journal is accurate in its reporting, the $906,000 Shared Services Agreement between Wappingers Falls and Dutchess County will staff eight full-time officers to provide Wappingers Falls with 24-hour police protection. According to the Village of Cold Spring budget for the fiscal year ending 2018, Cold Spring has budgeted less than half that amount ($387,000) to staff part-time police officers to provide Cold Spring with 24-hour police protection.

    • Patty Villanova   September 12, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      To put things in perspective: The Village of Wappingers Falls has a population of 5,522 and an adopted budget of $5,077,289, of which $906,000 (18 percent) will go to fund police services. The Village of Cold Spring has a population of 1,948 and an adopted budget of $1,594,761 of which $387,000 (24 percent) goes for police services.

      The Cold Spring Police Department does not really provide service 24/7/365. Try calling them after-hours and on weekends. Sometimes no answer, sometimes you get the Sheriff’s Department.