Port Henry Is the Moriah Police Department a good investment?
That’s the question Tim Garrison is asking. The town councilman has initiated a discussion on the future of the agency.
“We have the (Essex County) sheriff’s department and the state police, do we need the Moriah Police Department?” Garrison asked. “We’re spending $100,000 a year on the police. Is that money being well spent?”
Garrison believes Moriah’s two-man police force does a good job, but wonders if it’s limitations make the taxpayer investment worthwhile.
“There are 168 hours in a week,” Garrison said. “We have 80 hours of police coverage. That’s less than half the time that we have police available.”
Garrison hopes Moriah residents will discuss the merits of the local police department and make their feelings known to the town board.
“This is not a decision for the town board,” Garrison said of the department’s future. “People need to tell us what they want.”
Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava supports the Moriah Police Department.
“Our police are incredibly busy and do a great job,” Scozzafava said. “There’s a lot the public doesn’t see. They prevent a lot of problems from arising.
“Our department is stretched thin, but so are the state police,” he added. “I’ve spoken to Capt. (John) Tibbitts and he’s told me the state police wouldn’t be able to pick up the slack if there was no Moriah police. If anything, a community our size needs more police protection, not less.”
Tibbitts is the New York State Police Zone 3 captain.
The Moriah Police Department answered 194 calls during the month of July, reported Steve Stahl, Moriah officer-in-charge.
“For a two-man department we’re very busy,” Stahl said. “Not all the calls relate to crimes, but they’re all calls they need to be handled. We get requests from other police agencies looking for information, from people with questions, from residents who want us to look at their home when they’re away. You name it and we handle it.”