Updated 05/16/2012 10:58 PM
Utica accepts $100,000 for police
Utica's common council has accepted a $100,000 gift to help with its police department's budget troubles. But agreeing to the deal does not sit well with everyone. Our Andrew Sorensen explains why money for the deeply gouged police department has turned into such a hot issue.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- The Utica Common Council approved a $100,000 gift from the county to aid the city's police department Wednesday night.
Utica's police department lost 17 positions in this year's city budget. Many of them were demotions in rank. The move left a void full of liability for Police Chief Mark Williams.
"The problem the city faces is that there has to be accountability for our officers," Utica Police Department Chief Mark Williams explained. "At the same time, we need supervision to be there for our younger officers."
To address the issue, the Oneida County Executive and District Attorney's office offered up $100,000. But some common council members dislike the strings attached.
"They're getting three guys, plus they want us to give promotions," said Common Council Majority Leader Frank Meola.
The county is asking for three officers for the Oneida County Drug Task Force and for five to be promoted. The council and police officials are at odds over how the deal will shake out.
"We're losing five patrolmen off our city streets by those promotions. We'd like to use the $100,000 for overtime," Meola said.
"These are not desk jobs, these are street supervision jobs," Williams countered.
Other council members are concerned that the money is a one-shot deal.
"What happens after that leaves and is no longer available? Again it would have to be absorbed by the tax payers," Common Council Member Frank Vescera said.
Chief Williams says he is working on longer term officer replacement solutions with $250,000 in grants waiting to be approved by the council.
Utica's Common Council did amend the resolution, accepting the gift to say that when the money runs out, positions will go back to where they are now.
The amendment leaves the police to find a way to make the promotions permanent.