Changes with New Berlin Police Department a focus of board meeting

NEW BERLIN – Despite widespread rumors that the Town of New Berlin Police Department would be dissolved at Monday night’s board meeting, Town of New Berlin Supervisor Robert Starr said that was not the plan this month.

With approximately a dozen residents present at the meeting – including employees of the Town of New Berlin Police Department – Starr said he intends to search for an additional officer for the department, one that can work in New Berlin full time.

Following an executive session regarding a police department matter than lasted nearly an hour, the board returned with its thoughts on the department.

Starr told NBPD officer Rick McCulskey that one car in possession of the department must be returned to Binghamton. Additionally, Starr said the SUV would remain McCulskey’s dog wagon while working.

The NBPD officers are part-time employees who hold other jobs elsewhere in addition to the services they provide the community.

“We care about the people, and we care about the community,” said Tom Miller. “It’s why we’re here.”

While speaking to McCulskey, Starr said he would like him to be able to work 40 hours every two weeks with his K9.

The K9s of the NBPD have been trained – and continue to receive further training – at the expense of each officer, and not the expense of the town.

“If you’re going to a school outside of the area with your dog, I need to approve that work, if you’re going on this company’s time,” said Starr.

“We don’t want to lose you,” said board member Wendy Rifanburg regarding the department. “But we don’t have a lot of money, and as you may have noticed, I’m the cheapest one in the group.”

Starr said an issue bothering him is continuity and follow-up. Chief Dominic Commesso is temporarily out of work due to an injury, and Starr said to McCulsky, “While Dom (Commesso) is out, you’re our man.”

Starr added he has spent quite a bit of time consulting with heads of other police departments – including the Norwich Police Department and Chenango County Sheriff’s Office – and is looking for qualified individuals who are trained and willing to work either part or full time.

“I can’t have someone who doesn’t know how to write a ticket,” said Starr. He said police presence in the community is needed, and another trained officer would make a difference.

Current part-time officers told Starr they would step in to fill more hours to help out.

“I’m more than happy to work up here (New Berlin),” said Sgt. Bob Jones. “I’ve taken days off from my other job to come up here and cover shifts because stuff was going on up here where they needed people. Others have done the same. We care about this place.” Jones cited houses where drug arrests were made by the NBPD.

The next town board meeting is in April, where the matters brought up to McCulskey will be discussed further.

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