The Town of Southampton and the Village of Sagaponack have reached an agreement that will end the possibility that Sagaponack will create a police force of its own, at least for now. Following a well-attended Sagaponack Village Board meeting on Sept. 7, the Southampton Town Board unanimously approved changes in the contract for its Police Department’s coverage of the village. The Sagaponack Village Board gave its approval unanimously at a meeting on Monday.
“The commitment would give us pretty much exactly what we wanted to have if we did our own police force,” Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim said on Monday. “I think we should adopt this, take the town at its word, and if it turns out that they are not performing like they said they would, we have the alternative,” he said.
The existing arrangement for police service from the Southampton department, which dated to 2006 and cost village taxpayers $2.3 million a year, left the village without around-the-clock service even in summer. The mayor was among those who said the village could do better and save money with a force of its own.
The agreement is for five years, with automatic annual renewal. It won’t take effect until January 2015, but, in effect, became effective on Monday because it provides, as the former agreement did, that after Sept. 15, Sagaponack will share patrols between midnight and 8 a.m. with Bridgehampton and Water Mill.
The new agreement designates Sagaponack as a separate patrol area with the assignment of a police officer on a 24-hour basis between May 15 and Sept. 15, although it includes a caveat allowing the officer to respond, if warranted, to emergencies outside the village.
The mayor had asked that the agreement provide that the assigned officer “develop and maintain a familiarity with local residents and local conditions” and “communication with Village Hall staff and village officials” as well as with town code enforcement personnel.
It can be canceled by either party with written notice by March 1 of any year. Implementation of the details will be reviewed at quarterly meetings between the town, the Police Department, and village officers.
The village board presented budgets to create a separate department, effective Jan. 1, at the Sept. 7 meeting, the second of two meetings at which the mayor predicted the village could save $1 million a year. Public opinion was mixed, as it had been with board members.
Although he voted in favor of the agreement on Monday, one trustee, William Barbour, said, “I don’t know how they are going to do it . . . to follow this and cover sectors, but I guess that is not our concern.”
“I hope it will be a win-win situation for both Sagaponack and Southampton Town,” Mayor Louchheim said. “We will still be paying a disproportionate amount of the police budget — so be it. I think it will be a good deal for us, and clearly the town will benefit by keeping a large revenue flow.”