Horseheads Police Policy Dispute Resolved

HHDS Police Dispute
HORSEHEADS, NY (WENY)---An arbitrator has sided with Horseheads village leaders over a dispute with the Horseheads police union. In an effort to cut down on overtime pay, officials decided to not call in a back-up officer when another calls out sick.

The Police Benevolent Association, which is the police union, is not happy with that decision but an arbitrator recently decided the village can move forward with the new policy.

Village Manager, Walt Herbst, says the policy -- designed to save taxpayers money -- has been in effect for about two years now. He says the village paid more than $120,000 in overtime pay the year before the policy went into effect.

The department is typically staffed with two officers on every shift. If an officer calls out, another is called in, and paid overtime. Now, if an officers calls out, a back-up is not called in.

Herbst says not to worry because the village has a mutual aid agreement with Elmira Heights.

"Officer safety has remained the same. In addition, we've saved a considerable amount of money for village taxpayers," says Herbst. "Overtime costs alone would have added four to six percent in property taxes," he adds.

Scott McGrain, the head of the police union disagrees. He says wait times for police to show up to an emergency will increase. McGrain also says the village is not living up to its responsibility to protect and serve its residents.