Owego: Fewer Officers, More Crime

Written By: Asha McKenzie
Owego: Fewer Officers, More Crime

OWEGO (WENY) -- Earlier this year, two officers left the Owego Police Department.
     And now there's word the police department will not be allowed to replace those officers, which is causing uproar in the community.
     Owego Cheif of Police, Karen Vinti says it was a surprise to her when The Village Board of Trustees told her she couldn't fill those positions.
     Now, she has just five full time officers on staff.
     WENY asked Vinti how many officers she had on patrol today and she said "One." And when asked if that was enough.. "NO."
     Chief Vinti lost two officers this year when they left for other departments after rumors OF downsizing.
     "That budget is in place. I have those positions in there," said Vinti. "There was no talk during budget cuts time about cutting any positions. The budget was approved with those positions."
     According to the towns charter, there has to be a Chief, but the number of officers is at the board's discretion.
     And now she's down to 5 full time  officers for 4,000 residents.
     So far this year, the Owego PD received roughly 2700 calls. Vinit says this calls into question officer and public safety.
     "To say that without adding extra people on I can provide the same level of service...I'm not sure the village people will go for that," said Vinti.
     Earl Hartman, Owego Board Member says not hiring the 2 officers is due to financial reasons.
     "The process was to not forever deny these two officers being hired, any two officers being hired but to set the process up to where we could get a sustainable police force - core police force," said Hartman.
     "We need to look at what we can afford; economics and What we can achieve," said Hartman.
     When we spoke to towns people, there concerns are what happens after hours with just one officer on patrol.
     "These politicians that sit behind desks all day and sleep at night, don't know what it's like at night in the streets with the residents," said Jim Clark, Owego resident.
     Now the Board of Trustees have until August 18th to make a final decision on the Police Departments future.