County disbands volunteer Auxiliary Police, citing liability

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2017 at 11:55 am

‘It wasn’t a decision made lightly. We agonized over this discussion for months.’

ALBION – Orleans County officials last month decided to disband an all-volunteer auxiliary police force, citing concerns over liability.

The auxiliary police was formed in 1952 with a mission to provide civil defense if the community was under attack. The actual work, however, changed to helping manage crowds at large community events, such as the Orleans County 4-H Fair, fireworks displays, festivals and football games. The auxiliary police also directed traffic at events.

“They served the community well and did many wonderful things,” said County Attorney David Schubel, who recommended the group be disbanded.

The group was down to six members, and would have needed more training and equipment to meet standards of peace officers.

“If you’re going to do it and do it well it would have required enormous training,” Schubel said today. “If we continued, we would have needed more people.”

The auxiliary police operated under the Emergency Management Office. Schubel said many people in the public likely assumed they were deputies with the Sheriff’s Office.

Many of the auxiliary police carried their own firearms with holsters and equipment that weren’t up to police standards.

“They certainly had the best interests of the community at heart,” Schubel said.

During the Orleans County Association of Municipalities meeting on Tuesday, County Legislator Bill Eick told the group the auxiliary police had been dissolved.

“Liability is No. 1,” Eick told the village, town and county officials. “There was declining interest from younger people.”

The county may fill void of the auxiliary police with seasonal deputies, who currently work on the marine patrol. Those deputies all have law enforcement training with the proper equipment. They would operate under the Sheriff’s Office.

“It wasn’t a decision made lightly,” said Chuck Nesbitt, chief administrative officer. “We agonized over this discussion for months.”

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