Evans Supervisor Keith Dash says eliminating the Evans Police Department is not the solution for town's financial issues.
[photo 1]Should the Town of Evans abolish its police department? That was a hot topic of conversation at the Oct. 17 meeting of the Evans Town Board.
The issue of doing away with the police department was initially broached in an Evans Taxpayer United Pennysaver
article published Oct. 5.
A handful of residents took the opportunity to voice their opinion on the idea of eliminating the police department, including Geordie Sinclair, who delivered an impassioned speech that drew a round of applause.
“Did the ETU do its homework in regard to this matter?” Sinclair said. “The idea of losing our town’s police force is idiotic. I have learned throughout my short time here on this earth that there are two kinds of people – people who are part of the problem and the problem solvers. Our police force are the problem solvers. We go to sleep every night under their watchful care. Our police force is effective. Can you put a price on a life – when seconds and minutes matter? To infer that the police department has anything to do with the fiscal problems in this town is wrong. Eliminating the police department as a means of a solution is wrong. We as residents should be thanking our officers for the job that they do. My family is safe knowing that these officers are on the job.”
Cheryl Grassia and Guy Canonico Jr. echoed Sinclair’s sentiments.
“I heard recently there was an incident in the Town of Brant where it took the Sheriff’s Department 38 minutes to respond,” said resident Grassia. “I don’t want to see an incident like that happen here in our town. I’m against the abolishment of our police department.”
“There’s not a person in this room that would want to call 911 and have to sit and wait for a State Trooper to come all the way here from Clarence in order to respond,” said Canonico. “I feel safe knowing that if something were to happen, that an officer would be at my door within three minutes. I own a scanner, I listen to the calls, and I know that’s the response time in this town.”
Supervisor Keith Dash then delayed a scheduled public hearing for a few minutes in order to address the situation.
“I need to take a breath here because I feel that this is something that we need to address,” Dash said. “I want to thank those who spoke tonight for their eloquent position on our police department. I know that there is no one that sits on this current town board that is in favor of eliminating the Evans Police Department. But understand that we are part of a democracy and I applaud your input because that is how government works. We have residents in our town that use their freedom of speech and freedom of the press to further their own efforts. So know that we have to acknowledge that as well. There are no, nor will there be in the future, plans to eliminate the Evans Police Department. I will say however that the frustration has boiled over from the realization that there is a shortness of funds from budgeting that we have had in the past. This board is committed to correct that without the loss of valuable service, and part of the valuable service is knowing that the police department is committed to keeping us safe.”
Dash continued that he knows how people feel.
“We’re all frustrated,” he said. “We all are. There are those that do not want to see their taxes go up, and want to make sure that every penny we spend and everything we do financially is above board. All of us on the board are frustrated because we inherited a financial situation that was a nightmare, and we are working to correct that.
“People need to know that none of us have ever discussed getting rid of our police department. When I ran for office a year ago, I was the only candidate who said I wouldn’t even look into it because I know these are families that are looking out for my family, which is comforting to me personally. When I pick up the phone, it’s comforting for me to think that I know this officer, or may have taught him, gone to school with him or sat next to in church. That’s a comfort that you don’t get when you go outside to big agencies,” he said.
Dash concluded by offering some emphatic words to anyone thinking that the abolishment of the Town of Evans Police Department is an immediate solution.
“This has never been discussed internally, presently or in the future, this has never been discussed. We’re not looking to abolish the police department.”