COEYMANS —The Coeymans Police Department and Albany County Sheriff’s Office will now provide nine dedicated patrols for the town daily.
This agreement became effective immediately after the Coeymans Town Board unanimously voted in favor in its Jan. 9 meeting. The town will also provide a substation for the Sheriff’s Office and Town Supervisor George McHugh said the main objective is to increase public safety in Coeymans and Ravena.
“It’s also about sharing resources between the Sheriff’s Office and Coeymans Police Department to better train and support our law enforcement,” he said. “It’s about providing the Sheriff’s Office with a more permanent presence in Coeymans and Ravena, to aid and support the RCS Resource Officers as well as our own police officers.”
He added that it would save the town around $280,000 which can help remedy the Coeymans Police Department’s outstanding budget last year; two Coeymans police officers’ shifts will be cut though and its 21 part-time officers will see fewer shifts. However, no police officer would lose their job.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the agreement would also result in six deputies being placed in Coeymans in exchange for a substation, office and parking spaces. “The biggest hindrance to us, quite honestly, is that our closest station to here is in Clarksville,” he said, explaining that having a more permanent outreach in Coeymans can help them in the long run.
A few dozen residents attended the town board meeting with mixed views on the agreement.
One resident said, “If we are not spending any more money, if we are increasing our patrol, especially in this day and age, I don’t see why it’s a bad thing.”
In contrast, another resident expressed concern that the shift cuts would hurt the part-time officers’ income. “They count on that for a living, so whether you’re going to let them go or keep them, you’re going to lose some of them just by doing this,” he said.
Michael Case, a Coeymans police officer, also chimed in, “Some of our officers will receive a bi-weekly paycheck for three days total, and the one question I ask is how can we expect someone to make a living or contribute to their families, especially in the state of New York, on this merit.” He said he preferred the town board to leave it up to residents to vote on the matter instead.
Other concerns brought up included perceiving this agreement as a way to generate more tickets to increase revenue for the town and village courts, as well as whether the incoming Albany County Sheriff’s patrol officers will take the time to connect with the Coeymans community.
A resident who works at the local library said, “The officers from the Coeymans police force will stop by the library [even] when we haven’t called them. They know the kids, they’ve been a tremendous resource. I can’t say enough good things about them. And while I have respect for the sheriffs, I’ve never seen a Sheriff’s officer swing by the library just to see how things are going.”
Apple said, “I really understand that there’s some angst attached to this. It’s changed and nobody likes it but we’re not here to harass anybody. … I don’t care about tickets, I’d rather give a warning. But if you do it again, then shame on you, and I’m going to give you a ticket. But it’s not my job to funnel money into the town and states by writing tickets. That’s not going to happen.”
McHugh said the agreement’s roots traced back to after last November’s town election and he met with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to reintroduce himself as the newly-elected supervisor. The meeting lasted around two hours and “we came away from it believing we could benefit from having a substation in Coeymans and we could benefit with more police coverage,” he said.
Moving forward, McHugh concluded, “It’s about working together with our county law enforcement to increase public safety and patrols in Coeymans and Ravena, for the safety and security of its residents, property owners and business owners. … It’s not about dissolving the Coeymans Police Department because that is something not one person on this [town] board is in favor of now or, I believe, ever.”