Committee studying law enforcement services in Orleans meets today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 June 2016 at 12:00 am

ALBION – A steering committee that will study law enforcement services in Orleans County will meet today at 7 p.m. and is expected to pick a vendor to assist with the project.

The committee will meet in Conference Room C of the County Administration Building on Route 31, and will interview two consultants interested in working on the study.

The county received a $36,000 matching state grant for the law enforcement shared service and efficiency study. The county is paying the other $36,000.

The committee will include police chiefs and elected officials from the four villages and Orleans County, which all provide police services. The steering committee and a consultant will explore the efficiency of current local law enforcement operations and compare them with alternative policing models, including the potential consolidation of all local departments into one.

County officials have set May 2017 for completion of the report with recommendations and alternatives for the community.

The study will look at the operations at the Sheriff’s Office, and the Albion, Medina and Holley police departments. Lyndonville also has a part-time officer.

There may be opportunities for shared administration, joint purchasing and other initiatives that would keep the existing village police departments. Or the committee may suggest the village departments be dissolved with a county-wide force taking the lead.

If the villages dissolved their police departments, it would provide significant tax relief for villages. However, county taxes would likely then go up.

Holley has talked before of dissolving its police department and Medina, as part of a failed dissolution proposal last year, said a town-wide force in Shelby and Ridgeway could be created.

County Legislature Chairman David Callard has said he wants to be proactive in looking at policing services and not be caught off guard by a village that dissolves its force, expecting the Sheriff’s Office to assume village road patrols and calls.

The study will look at alignment of current compensation and benefits agreements, determining the costs of a combined police force. The committee will look at potential obstacles to consolidation and provide guidance to overcome those obstacles, according to the county’s Request For Proposals for the study.