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Village police out of Task Force

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2014 at 12:00 am

County hires 2 full-time investigators for group

ALBION – A multi-agency task force that targeted drug and major felony crimes in the county will no longer include officers from the Albion, Holley and Medina police departments.

The Orleans County Legislature announced the village personnel are out of the task force and two full-time investigators would be added at county expense.

The county had been paying Albion and Medina $50,000 annually towards the salary of a full-time officer and $25,000 to Holley for a part-time officer.

The villages, especially Albion and Medina, have long complained that the $50,000 did not come close to covering costs of a full-time officer for the salary, overtime and benefits.

“We heard it was costing the villages more than they were receiving,” said David Callard, Orleans County Legislature chairman. “By us taking on full-time employees it will eliminate the extra costs from the villages. They’ll have their own staffing at their own costs.”

The decision announced Wednesday caught the village leaders by surprise. However, they say village police will continue to fight drug and other crime in the community.

The decision comes about halfway through the village budget cycle, which runs June 1 to May 31.

Roland Nenni, Albion police chief, said his department now faces a $25,000 budget gap for the rest of the village fiscal year.

The Orleans County Major Felony Crimes Task Force has existed for about 20 years. Nenni said it has been controversial since its inception.

“The views of how it should run and by what funding has changed many times over the years, depending on who sat on the various boards,” he said.

The Task Force has included a supervising officer paid by the county, a member of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, and officers from the Albion, Holley and Medina police departments. An officer from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement joined the Task Force this year as a full-time presence.

Callard said the two new full-time investigators and the ICE officer will more than offset the manpower from the villages – two full-time officers and a part-timer.

Nenni said he is optimistic the Task Force will remain effective and will work closely with the local village police.

“The impact of not having an officer from each agency assigned to unit is yet to be seen and only time will tell,” he said. “The Albion Police Department is committed to serve the residents of the Village of Albion in the protection of life and property and will continue to serve in all aspects of that protection.”

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier said the loss of county funding may not be a budget blow to Medina because that officer can return to work full-time with the Medina department. The big overtime costs for the officer working at the Task Force are now gone, Meier said.

“I am pleased the county has taken an even greater leadership role in combating major crime,” Meier said. “In particular, the illegal drug trade isn’t just a problem in the villages. It’s countywide, and we must address it collectively.”

The county is capping officer overtime at $10,000 each per year. The new officers are scheduled to start on Jan. 1.

Callard said the village mayors and police chiefs will continue to be welcome on an advisory board for the Task Force.

“We’re all working together for the same purpose,” Callard said. “We’re still going to work together cooperatively.”