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East Syracuse votes to merge police force with DeWitt

Ken Hawkins

The chief of the East Syracuse police department is now faced with the task of phasing out his force by the end of the year. Residents of the village last night voted to dissolve the department and merge it with the DeWitt police force.

The village rejected the measure the first time it came up in October 2012, but taxes have gone up 22 percent since then. The town board resurrected the idea this year and voters passed the measure Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, Police Chief Don Morris said he has faith DeWitt will make sure East Syracuse residents are safe.

"I’m sure the town’s going to do everything in their power to make sure that the village is safe," he said. "I really believe that they’ll go out of their way to make sure the village doesn’t see that much of a change in response time or anything else."

The village’s four fulltime officers and deputy will get jobs in the DeWitt police department. Morris and his part time officers will not. The squad cars and other equipment will also go to DeWitt.

The transition goes into affect Jan. 1, 2015.

The village will pay DeWitt $375,000 annually in the four year deal. DeWitt is supposed to maintain one patrol car in the village 24 hours a day.

Some residents said they couldn't afford to keep having their taxes rise, while others worried about safety and crime in the village with fewer police officers watching over it.

Kim O’Brien had formed the Friends of the East Syracuse Police Department group to fight the merger. She said mismanagement of village finances is to blame and people already made their voice heard and didn’t feel they could fight it this time.

"We already voted on this’ we voted to keep our police. And that was that," she said. "To bring it up a year later and have it be where it is today is very disappointing."