Schenectady County

Schenectady seeks funding to conduct police study

City officials are seeking state grant funding for a study that would explore consolidation options

City officials are seeking state grant funding for a study that would explore consolidation options between the Schenectady Police Department and at least one other law enforcement agency in the county.

The grant through the New York Department of State would provide up to $50,000 to study cost reduction and management improvement options for the city police. Mayor Brian Stratton said the grant could require a 10 percent match from the city but would at last provide a detailed look at the various consolidation options available for the Police Department.

“We are taking the next step as I have always said we should,” he said Tuesday.

Grant writer Sue Lombardi said Schenectady’s Police Department ranks in the top 25th percentile of per capita spending, which makes the city a “high priority” in terms of funding for a study. She said the city spends about $249 per capita on its Police Department, which is $20 more than the state average.

Lombardi said the study would look at a broad array of cost-saving measures. This could include everything from a consolidation of whole departments to sharing of services between police agencies.

“This is really to look at the questions you’ve been talking about,” she said during a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Lombardi said a group from Columbia University already produced a basic study in July that suggested the city investigate consolidation and shared services with other municipalities.

The city will apply for the grant individually rather than with another municipality. Lombardi said the grant award will likely be announced within the next three months.

In March, Stratton proposed consolidation as a way to both save money and solve recurring discipline problems within the city police. The mayor’s call for consolidation was quickly dismissed by county officials and by supervisors from two of the three towns with police departments in Schenectady County.

But last spring, Glenville Supervisor Frank Quinn indicated he would support conducting a consolidation study. At the same time, the League of Women Voters of Schenectady County suggested the establishment of a nonpartisan committee to study consolidating all the county’s police departments into one agency.

“I think we owe it to our public to actually show if there are any cost advantages,” Stratton said. “We owe it to ourselves to look at what the options are.”

Schenectady Police Chief Mark Chaires declined to comment about the grant application or possible consolidation efforts.

Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett supported seeking the grant because a consolidation study could identify ways to run a more cost-efficient police force, he said. He said investing a small amount of money into such a study could ultimately result in even greater savings.

“The city would be foolish not to take advantage of it,” he said. “This is a good opportunity at a very minimal investment to explore the possibilities that are out there.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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