Gilbride Still Wants Sheriff’s Department in Sag Harbor

The Sag Harbor Village Board and the Village Police Department appear to have renewed efforts to reach a compromise in their months-long contract negotiations standoff. The Board met with the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association in a closed-door meeting last Tuesday, November 7, though it’s unclear how much progress was made.

“I don’t know where we’re going at this point,” Sag Harbor‘s mayor Brian Gilbride said, though he acknowledged that he and the Village Board are back in “unofficial negotiations” with the SHPBA. The Sag Harbor PD currently costs the Village about $2 million—a quarter of its total $8 million budget—which includes an average of about $183,000 per officer with benefits.

As negotiations fell apart last summer, Gilbride requested proposals from East Hampton TownSouthampton Town and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to take over policing duties in the Village. The mayor was clearly in favor of the Sheriff Department’s  $923, 520 proposal to police the Village in place of the 12 officers currently employed in Sag Harbor, and he’s still hopeful about accepting that proposal, but he said this week that it would be more difficult than he thought.

“I don’t know that I’ve backed off from that,” Gilbride explained, responding to reports published last week that he was stepping away from the idea. “The Sheriffs are still in the running,” he said.

But bringing in the new force and eliminating the current PD is an “uphill battle,” according to the mayor. Gilbride said the Suffolk County Legislature would have to approve the change, and the SHPBA had already spoken to the County officials and shared its opposition to the plan. He suggested that the PBA has power and political weight, so legislative approval could be tough to achieve.

“It’s too bad,” Gilbride said. “The County could use the money.”

He noted that he’s scheduled more “unofficial negotiations” with the SHPBA in February, and he’d likely know more after that.

So far, Gilbride acknowledged that the SHPBA had made one proposal that is lower than the contended 4.5% raise the PBA asked for when negotiations began. He said the offer was not public, but he could come back with a counter-offer if his board agrees.

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