Letter: Town Board Members Minimized Police's Work

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BEDFORD, N.Y. – The Bedford Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to lbutton@dailyvoice.com.

Oct. 3, 2012

To the Editor: 

Disappointment and disbelief was what the members of the Town of Bedford Police Department felt after reading comments made by several Bedford town board members in an article published last week. Many members of the police department grew up in town and still live here. Others have family and close friends who live in town. It is with great pride that the members of the Bedford Police Department serve their community.

In last week's article, one of the board members was quoted as saying “We have no crime in this town; we’ve had a couple of burglaries.” 

I suggest you ask the resident of East Lake Drive, the victim of a violent home invasion who was assaulted in her home by two armed men wearing ski masks, what her opinion would be. Ask the family on Broad Brook Road, who had been victimized during a violent home invasion by a masked gunman. How about the young girl who was attacked on a public access walking trail in broad daylight?

I believe these victims, among many others, would have a much different opinion regarding crime in Bedford. If you owned one of the many cars that were broken into while you were out for a walk, and your belongings, cell, laptop, cash and jewelry were stolen, what would your feelings be about crime in Bedford?

In fact, the Bedford Police Department has investigated 20 burglaries so far this year – a far cry from the two portrayed. In addition to these burglaries, members of the department have investigated over 425 other criminal matters and have made 203 arrests. These cases include burglaries, arsons, larcenies, domestic abuse, assaults, as well as sexual abuse and many other crimes. 

Much of the police officers' actions are proactive rather than reactive. Officers have issued over 2,400 traffic tickets. We have issued countless warnings, as well as effecting 49 arrests for drunk and drugged driving. It is this commitment and dedication that has made and continues to make our community one of the safest places in New York State to live, work and visit.

The Bedford Police Department is so much more than a crime-fighting, ticket-writing department. Most of our officers are trained New York State emergency medical technicians. So far this year, we have responded to over 518 ambulance calls, oftentimes arriving in the crucial minutes before an ambulance or paramedics arrive. We deliver life-saving aid to your family and loved ones in their time of need. 

We have responded to over 430 motor vehicle accidents, many with injuries, each a traumatic incident for those involved. When there is concern for a loved one who a family member cannot make contact with, we respond. We have, without hesitation, responded to 49 such welfare check requests so far this year.  We have worked tirelessly through severe storms responding to calls for downed trees, downed power lines and flooding. The list goes on and on.

There is mention in the article about looking into cuts to the police department. The fact of the matter is your police department has already been cut to bare bones. Manpower has been reduced 16 percent over five years. That’s a huge cut to a 45-member department. Our men and women work tirelessly to cover a town spanning 39.3 square miles consisting of three hamlets – Katonah, Bedford Hills, and Bedford Village, with a total population of over 17,000 people.

At current staffing levels we are covering this area with the bare minimum: three patrols on the road answering calls, conducting traffic enforcement, checking neighborhoods and businesses, along with numerous other duties. There is one officer working the desk who is responsible for dispatching patrols on the road and answering phone calls on both regular lines as well as 911 emergency calls. That officer is also responsible for handling walk-in complaints and reviewing reports, as well as numerous other police duties.

All of the officers of the Bedford Police Department have at times worked too many hours on too little sleep for one purpose: to keep the people of the Town of Bedford feeling secure and safe in their homes and businesses. The idea that we are just “driving around Bedford all night long," as one councilman put it, is an insult to the men and women who are proud to wear the Bedford Police uniform.

A councilman mentioned, to his dismay, that the Halloween Parade was no longer taking place. The blame was placed squarely on the members of the Bedford Police Department for wanting to be paid X dollars to work the detail. What the councilman failed to mention was that in years past there were more police officers working each day, and the need to hire police officers on overtime to work such an event would not be required. 

Police officers work more weekends than not. We treasure those weekends off to spend time with our own families. It is hard enough on our families for us to be working rotating shifts, including weekends, holidays and overnights. Expecting officers to work special events without compensation equal to the sacrifice of leaving our families on yet another weekend is unfair. The men and women of the Town of Bedford Police Department serve with loyalty, honor, respect and dedication.  We make many sacrifices both seen and unseen, because we love what we do.

I also take issue with suggesting a police department be run like a corporation. A corporation is in business to make money: profit is the bottom line. The people of the Town of Bedford expect better, they deserve better. What is the bottom line on the safety of your business, your home, your family or your children? Regardless, the fact is, that based on the police department budget and population figures, the police department costs each resident less than $1 per day. This is a small price to pay for safety, security and the peace of mind in knowing when you call the Bedford Police Department, a highly trained professional will be there in minutes.

I’m sure the members of the Bedford town board would love to hear your comments both in writing and in person at the upcoming town board meetings.

Thank you for your time,

Officer Vincent Gruppuso

Bedford Police Benevolent Association President

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