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Catskill village chief says budget cuts mean fewer services

Dec 02, 2020 6:00 am
Sarah Trafton is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media Catskill Police Chief David Darling says budget cuts to his department would result in a loss of services. Darling made the comments during a November 30, meeting of the Village of Catskill Police Reinvention Collaborative. In a rare public conversation, the group discussed the role of police departments in the community and the concept of directing resources to other community needs. The collaborative is chaired by Village Trustee Natasha Law, and consists of Catskill High School principal Junait Shaw, Deacon Willie Davis, Matthew 25 Food Pantry Founder Patti Dushane, Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione, Rita Taylor of Hop-o-Nose, Catskill Housing Authority Chairman Sam Aldi and community members Elliot Matos and Mayra Johnson. Law read aloud questions submitted by community members on the Facebook Live video. The questions covered the police's role in mental health emergencies; the size of the Catskill force; the potential duplication of services; and the financial impact of maintaining the force. The 2020-21 budget for the Catskill Police Department is $1.3 million, or 26.5 percent of the village's total spending plan. The department has 14 full-time employees and three part-time employees. One participant pointed out that some residents did not attend the meeting out of fear, because police were present. Darling was open to the idea of having meetings without the police. “Maybe we shouldn’t be here,” he said. Law said all officers receive annual training in use of force, anti-bias, de-escalation, community policing and mental health awareness for law enforcement. New officers must complete 21-23 hours of training every year and ride along with a senior officer for 160 hours before going out on their own, Law said. No-knock warrants and chokeholds are banned in the village. Law offered arrest statistics that indicated the majority of those arrested by village police over a 20-year period were white without offering an annual breakdown of the data. There have been no use-of-force complaints filed in the last five years, Law said. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.