Tiny Sagaponack Village is considering breaking away from the Southampton Town Police Department.
The village of about 700, the majority of which are second homeowners, gets a seasonal officer between May and September on the beat, with the larger area patrolled by a car. The village pays about $2.3 million a year to the town for police protection, with some officials and residents believing they haven't received enough protection for what they pay.
An informational meeting with the village board on the future of police service in Sagaponack is scheduled for August 10 at 9 AM.
Inquiries will be laid out, options will be discussed, and solutions will be proposed.
According to village Mayor Donald Louchheim, the village can save money by doing its own policing, noting that police protection is the largest part of Sagaponack's budget.
"In the worst-case scenario, we could save a half million dollars a year," he said. "We pay $2.3 million per year to Southampton Town for a police force," he said.
Village officials said forming a small police department of their own, and contracting with the town or another municipality for other law enforcement services, could save the village residents thousands, and potentially millions, according to the proposal supporters.
Former Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson has expressed interest in being Sagaponack's police chief, should the village get its own force and the position is offered to him. Wilson has also prepared cost estimates for a new village police department with village officials. State law requires village departments have a chief and at least two officers.
In speaking beyond the costs, Louchheim also said he wants a different type of policing, noting quality of life issues Sagaponack residents care about go unnoticed or unaddressed by Southampton's police force.
Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she scheduled a meeting with Police Chief Robert Pearce (who was invited to next month's informational meeting) and Louchheim to discuss details on the conditions of the village forming its own police force.
"They need to look at a full analysis of what the costs for them are going to be over time," she said.
The issue comes at a time when the neighboring village of Sag Harbor is dealing with its own police problems. In the Harbor, the police staffing was a major issue with regard to a struggling budget.