Ti PD being evaluated

TICONDEROGA - A town committee is evaluating the structure of the Ticonderoga Police Department.

"We want to preserve our police department and keep it as cost-effective as possible for taxpayers," explained Wayne Taylor, town trustee and chair of the emergency services committee.

The group debated staffing at its last meeting, Taylor said during the full board meeting April 9. At issue was the use of part-time officers rather than full-time patrolmen.

"There was a lot of passionate discussion on both sides," Taylor said. "Are part-time officers as effective as full-time? Is it cost-effective to use more part-timers?"

Normally an eight-member department, the Ti PD now has six full-time officers with four part-time officers available to fill in.

Committee members recently visited the Whitehall Police Department. The department has five full-time officers and 11 part-time patrolmen.

Staffing has been an issue recently.

Despite pleas the department is short-staffed, the Ticonderoga town board approved only a part-time hire at its March 12 meeting.

Trustee Steve Whitford, a retired Ti policeman, had hoped the town board would hire Mark Belden as a full-time patrolman.

Instead, Supervisor Bob Dedrick and councilors Wayne Taylor, Dorcey Crammond and Bob Thatcher voted to hire Belden on a part-time basis with hopes money from the recently-approved federal economic stimulus package may allow him to become full-time in the future. At the April meeting the board approved applying for a grant to fund a full-time position.

By hiring a patrolman part-time instead of full-time, the town will save about $23,500 during the remainder of 2009, Taylor said.

The entire town board expressed support for the Ti PD, whose members have voiced concerns about safety and burn out because of the manpower shortage.

But Whitford is upset with what he believes is a lack of support for the Ticonderoga Police Department.

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