2013 Budgetary Process: Westchester Legislators Approve Shared Police Services between County and Municipalities

budget-westchester-board-of-legislatorsWhite Plains, NY – The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously approved a new bill this week that will allow the County to enter into inter-municipal agreements (IMAs) with municipalities for full contract police services for municipalities. The new law, when signed by the County Executive, will enable future police service agreements that result in further efficiencies and cost savings for both local governments and the County.

Presently, Westchester County’s Department of Public Safety is allowed, by law, to provide only supplemental and “special” services or necessary aid to local police forces, but not total delivery of police services to municipalities. Under the new law, this provision is removed. As with other IMAs, both the County and the municipality must negotiate mutually agreeable terms and conditions for police delivery services.

“Giving our municipalities the opportunity to obtain their entire police operations from the County makes sense in so many ways,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL’s Government Operations Committee and a sponsor of the legislation. “The County can draw on its greater pool of staff and equipment to provide a wide realm of police services to contracting municipalities, with greater flexibility of personnel and equipment resources. With future strains on municipal budgets in mind, options for shared services like police operations should be available.”

Under the new law, which received full support from both the BOL’s Democratic and Republican caucuses, noted Borgia, the terms of the IMAs for police shared services will be increased from four to five years. Any IMAs would require the approval of the BOL and the governing body of the municipalities. Meanwhile, the County’s Department of Public Safety will continue to render to any municipality the special services that are requested.

“We have to keep working together to find smart ways that decrease our local tax burdens, and shared police services between the County and our towns and villages is a big step forward as such,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “I appreciate Legislator Borgia’s leadership on this issue, and hope that municipalities around Westchester give this cost-saving option the consideration it deserves.

As Ossining Town Supervisor, Borgia signed the first shared police services agreement with the County’s Department of Public Safety in 2010. BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), who spearheaded the BOL’s approval of the legislation for the shared police services between the County and Town of Ossining, remarked, “This bill further confirms the commitment from the Board of Legislators to reduce the cost of government through shared regional services. We will continue to look for more smart solutions in terms of reducing spending to benefit the county’s taxpayers.”

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