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Itís my belief that the cost of the Potsdam village police force... is the major financial issue facing the village.

Potsdam considers police force size

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Tonight the Potsdam Village Board will hold a public discussion on the size of the village Police Department. Potsdam has only cut its the department by one position, since former Sergeant Kevin Bates took over as Chief of Police, but that cut has sparked serious discussion about the future of the force.

As Tasha Haverty reports, this evening's session will help determine whether the village will restore the position, or take the opportunity to downsize and save money.

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Natasha Haverty
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The Potsdam Police force feels strongly that the sergeant position needs to be filled. But according to Potsdam Mayor Steve Yurgartis, Potsdam citizens are pulled in both directions by the issue; those who argue that Potsdam doesn’t need another police officer believe that the cost is too high. Police are around 41% of the town’s general budget, making up the most expensive service of the village.

"It’s my belief that the cost of the Potsdam village police force, both present costs and in particular future costs, is the major financial issue facing the village of Potsdam over the next couple of decades," he said. "And since this is such an important issue I’d like to get as much public comment as possible, I’d like it to be a community discussion."

Those who make the case for bringing on another police officer argue the need for policing around “quality of life” concerns. Potsdam has nearly double the number of students as it does full time residents. While local colleges use a large part of police services, as tax-exempt institutions they don’t pay for the police.

According to Mayor Steve Yurgartis, the Potsdam Police Force is currently below its minimum staffing level that would need to be able to provide two officer coverage all hours of the day.

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