To the Editor,
As you know the Rockland County Legislative Budget and Finance Committee has been reviewing the 2015 County Executive Proposed Budget. I attended the Thursday, November 6th four-hour meeting that focused on the Sheriff Department and the proposed elimination of the Patrol Division, cutting 37 positions of the 111 positions Mr. Day has proposed to cut throughout county government. The auditorium was packed with people opposing the cut.
The County Charter gives the county executive authority to propose a Sheriff’s budget to the County Legislature even though the Sheriff is constitutionally established by the State and is elected. As I see it Mr. Day seems driven to balance this budget without exceeding a state recommended 2 percent total property tax increase. His determination is admirable given Rockland County is one of the most financially stressed counties in New York State, as well as the relatively high increases to county property taxes in recent years. Apparently he sees the Patrol Division as not being constitutionally mandated and, in my words, a luxury given financial limitations. He, being a former executive police professional, has an informed opinion about the implications of his proposal. On the other hand it appears over the past 50 years or so past and present county sheriffs, with the consent and approval of past county executives and Legislatures, created the Patrol Division as shared police services to towns and villages, not a duplication of services. This has been cost effective county wide, important to maintaining public safety and responding to emergencies. Eliminating such services would incur more expenditures for towns and villages choosing to make up the loss, and an uncoordinated County-wide weaken effort may not be as effective as the current practice.
I commend Mr. Day for his efforts and I respect his perspective on public safety issues. However we live in an era of international terrorism, in close proximity to New York City as a target that can spill over into the suburbs, as well as the new reality of severe weather, such as Sandy and Irene; to mention only two reasons for supporting the Patrol Division.
Robert Tompkins. CPA