A village in New York has voted to abolish its own police department.
The board in Wappingers Falls voted 5-2 on Wednesday, Aug. 30, passing a proposal for the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office to take over the village’s policing duties. Wappingers Falls is part of the Dutchess County area.
The mayor of the village, Matt Alexander, said they currently employ around 30 part-time officers. However the new agreement starting in January would permanently assign eight sheriff’s deputies to the village instead, Spectrum News reported.
“In order to be sustainable and to keep this going, we’re looking for an organization that can provide that to the community in a much more consistent way,” Alexander told Spectrum.
“The safest and best alternative for the village of Wappingers Falls was to provide a way of getting full-time police coverage 40 hours a week for eight different patrol people to come into the village.”
The population of Wappingers Falls totaled 5,506 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The mayor added that the move would increase resources and services used in emergencies. Alexander said that it would also release $600,000 worth of financial strain.
Current Village officers could also have employment opportunities within the sheriff’s office.
However, some residents in the community say the outsourcing of police officers is unnecessary.
“I personally would like the police department to stay,” resident Janina Percival told Spectrum. “I’m comfortable with what we have [and] I see no need for change.”
The Wappingers Falls Police Department is protesting the move as well. In a press release, the department said that it provides “irreplaceable services” and is a “core identity of the village.”
“The long-term detrimental impact on our community outweighs the minimal cost savings promised by the mayor,” the statement said. “The police officers who have dedicated their lives to this Village cannot in good conscience let this happen to the village residents they are sworn to protect.”
In addition, the department announced they have started a campaign to force the Village Board to submit the issue to a binding referendum, which would be held at the general election on Nov. 7.
“Despite the repeated requests of concerned citizens, the Village decided not to trust the Village residents and refused to submit the matter to a referendum,” the statement said.
Wappingers Falls Police Department has also started a petition to garner support from the community on change.org titled “Keep the Village of Wappingers Falls Police Department.” As of writing, it had garnered 656 supporters.
According to Spectrum, only 600 signatures are needed to petition the agreement.
The last words from the police departments statement “urges all voters of the village to take control of their destiny and not let the politicians leave you without a voice.”