Sagaponack Village wants a police department of its own, or at least its village board and a number of residents do, though debate is ongoing. The arguments in favor of a force of the village’s own are compelling.
Money is the first consideration. The amount paid for police services this year to the Town of Southampton, of which the hamlet is a part, was a substantial $2.3 million. For that sum, Sagaponack should be getting much more in the way of year-round patrols and enforcement of traffic laws. Supporting this view, the Village of Sag Harbor actually budgeted less for its own 10-member department in the 2013-14 fiscal year than Sagaponack. This comparison makes it seem that Sagaponack residents are being ripped off — or at least helping to subsidize police activities in other parts of town.
Beyond the cost, the most persuasive reason for a Sagaponack department is the police’s important public-safety role. Police are first responders, even before emergency medical technicians are mobilized. In the vast majority of the 911 calls that result in an ambulance being dispatched, an officer is the first on the scene, which is why most patrol cars are outfitted with oxygen and automatic emergency defibrillators. When every second counts, as in a heart attack or extreme injury, getting well-trained personnel to where they are needed as soon as possible can make the difference between life and death. An aging population makes rapid medical aid frequently required, and police are an important part of that equation.
Crime and road-type mayhem, it must be said, is minimal in Sagaponack. This is due, we suspect, to the prevalence of security alarms in the area’s often-palatial houses and to the village’s small resident population. Vandals and burglars are not likely to live here. Nor are weekend hedge-funders likely to take to a life of prosaic transgression. Drunken drivers may be fewer than in other places, aside from on Route 27. However, getting village residents their money’s worth in terms of a police presence — as well as assuring the fastest possible emergency responses — are goals well worth pursuing.