Two new patrolmen will be joining the Saratoga Springs Police Department next year. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, the new hires come on the heels of calls for help from the downtown community.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – By a margin of four to one Tuesday night, the Saratoga Springs City Council voted to spend $59,604 to hire two new police officers as early as July 1st.
"I can think of no better use for part of that funding than to bring our police force back," City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said.
"We have been pushing for anything that can be done to bring these numbers up," Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen said.
The measure was introduced by Madigan, who said this year the city received $331,250 more than expected from state VLT revenues, more than enough to cover the $160,775 it will cost to keep the officers on payroll in next year's budget as well.
"I believe this is being responsive, responsive government to the needs of the Department of Public Safety and the police department in particular," Madigan said.
The new hires come weeks after several high profile arrests in the city sparked a concern among citizens and business owners, many of whom have urged the council to restore the seven positions the police department lost during 2009 layoffs.
"I think the problem is becoming more acute now and people are noticing it more,” said Saratoga Downtown Business Association President Jeff Clark, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “It's been at a level where people can accept it and now it's gone past that level."
Speaking over the phone Wednesday, Assistant Police Chief Gregory Veitch said the two additional hires will allow the department to better conduct proactive police work instead of reactive.
Veitch added the new patrolmen bring the department’s payroll to 69, three less than its number before the layoffs four years ago.
"The administrators of our police force have done a great job of trying to deal with these shortfalls, which never should have occurred in the first place," Mathiesen said Tuesday.
The Department is in the running for a federal COPS grant which would allow them to hire another three patrolmen.
While none of the new officers will be on the street this summer, their hiring has helped ease at least some people's concerns.
"Two or three police officers can't be everywhere all the time but that presence on Broadway and downtown in the hub, it will be just really welcomed," Clark said.