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County wants to study how police services can best be provided in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Orleans County intends to pursue a grant that will study how police services can best be provided in the county.

The study would likely look at the operations at the Sheriff’s Department, 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.

“There is no intent to eliminate any departments,” said David Callard, chairman of the County Legislature. “We want to see if we can deliver better services and meld operations.”

The county has retained J. O’Connell and Associates in Clarence to seek a grant through the State Department of State for the study. O’Connell will be paid up to $5,000 to for “local government efficiency grant.”

Callard said it will be the first effort to look at police services in the county with a focus on how the services could best be provided throughout the county at the lowest cost.

He would like to see the existing departments stay, but he is concerned some of the villages may chose to eliminate their departments. Holley has discussed it before, and Medina’s department would have been eliminated if the village dissolution had passed in January. A dissolution plan called for creating a town-wide police force instead.

Callard said the police study should also look at options for a single county-wide department, but that wouldn’t be his preference.

“I’d rather study a problem and be proactive rather than have it thrown in our laps and be forced to react to it,” Callard said.

The Orleans County villages have some of the highest village tax rates in the region with Albion at $17.75 per $1,000 of assessed property, Medina at $17.13, Holley at $14.81 and Lyndonville at $12.51.

The police departments represent at least a third of the tax levy in Holley, Albion and Medina.

“Going down the road, the villages may decide they suffer from the cost of maintaining police departments,” Callard said. “We need to be forward thinking.”

Callard expects the application will be submitted to the state in July with an announcement coming later in the year. The study could look at several alternatives for police services, with input from the village departments.