The village's Board of Trustees decision Tuesday night was unanimous. They cited concerns about costs and potential liability. Chris Knight reports.
The board's directive came after a review of the village's potential liability in answering calls outside the village. That review was initiated by Trustee Paul Van Cott, a lawyer who was just elected to the board in March. He said the state doesn't cover the village's costs and liability when village officers respond to calls outside the village at the request of state police.
"The potential exists that if our officer was injured, the village could incur the costs related to any claim that individual brought for disability, and that the potential liability for the village would be significant," Van Cott said during the meeting.
Van Cott said the village will reach out to officials in surrounding towns and ask them to cover the village’s liability and costs in responding to their towns.
For now, Mayor Clyde Rabideau said village officers won't respond to calls outside the village, even if they're asked to respond by state police, "unless there's extenuating circumstances, like imminent loss of life.”
"It is not incumbent upon the village of Saranac Lake to go 5 or 10 miles away to provide police protection. So we're giving everybody notice to get some police protection. And if you want us, recompense our costs; that's all."
The village’s police chief Bruce Nason said Wednesday that his officers have only answered about a dozen calls outside the village in the past year, and most were the kind of life-threatening incidents that police would still be able to respond to.
But if the village can’t reach agreements with the surrounding towns, Rabideau has told Nason that his officers won’t be able to respond outside the village for any reason.
If that happens, Nason said he’d be concerned about the safety of the general public and state police, who wouldn’t have village officers as backup.