City officials are ironing out what they’ll do when nine state troopers are pulled out of the city’s harness track and racino as part of a state budget change.
The troopers will no longer be stationed at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway after the end of this month, said Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim. They have been there since the racino opened in 2004, said state police spokesman Lt. Glenn Miner.
It appears that city police, who currently share jurisdiction with state police at the racino on Jefferson Street, will have primary jurisdiction over the gaming site starting April 1. Kim said the police department is evaluating the law enforcement needs of Saratoga Gaming and Raceway to decide whether city officers will need to be stationed there. He expects the task will fall to the city’s investigation division.
“We’re just literally learning about this, but we don’t know what all the implications are at this point,” he said.
He was surprised that the removal of the troopers is under way even before the new state budget takes effect April 1.
Matt Anderson, a spokesman with the governor’s budget office, said the relocation is an administrative action by the superintendent of the state police, and that’s why it doesn’t have to wait until after the budget is passed.
Police at gambling facilities are a common sight to ward off crime in an area where there’s a lot of cash, Kim noted.
“Our department is methodically studying what are the general needs out there. There’s clearly a need for [police officers] because there tends to be a certain amount of crime.”
The 90 troopers at the state’s eight racinos were reassigned as part of a state budget initiative putting more officers in 17 counties tagged as the highest crime areas outside New York City.
The initiative, called Operation IMPACT, began in 2004.
Schenectady, Albany and Rensselaer counties are on that list, Anderson said.
“We believe that these racinos are an inherently safe atmosphere and have a history of few serious crimes,” Anderson said. “We believe [the troopers] can be put to better use in these high crime areas.”
The state police investigators stationed at the racino currently are charged with performing background checks on prospective employees, something that soon-to-be-hired Division of Lottery employees will do in the future, said division spokesman John Charlson.
Saratoga Gaming and Raceway also has its own security staff, Charlson said.
“There will be a seamless transition of security,” he said, adding that patrons won’t notice a difference when they go to the racino.
The state troopers ensured that prospective employees’ backgrounds were consistently checked and also served as a visible police presence, Miner said. Troopers were frequently the first responders and made arrests when crimes occurred at the racino.
The funding that kept them there was shared by the state police and the lottery division, Anderson said.
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Categories: Schenectady County