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East Syracuse residents speak out on proposal to abolish police force

Members of the Friends of the East Syracuse Police Department make their way to St. Matthews School for a public hearing on the village board's proposal to abolish the police department.

Members of the Friends of the East Syracuse Police Department make their way to St. Matthews School for a public hearing on the village board's proposal to abolish the police department. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— Hundreds of East Syracuse residents filed into the St. Matthews School gym tonight to learn about the village’s proposal to abolish the police department and have the DeWitt Police Department take over police services.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in this room who wants to be here for this reason, myself included,” Mayor Danny Liedka told the packed gymnasium. “However, given the economic climate, it’s affecting everybody — it’s landed in East Syracuse. So we’re here tonight to talk about proposals. No decisions are being made tonight.”

The decision will be made on Oct. 16 by the residents of East Syracuse during a village-wide referendum, assuming the village board votes to go ahead with the proposal following a second public hearing at 6 p.m. Oct. 1.

DeWitt Town Supervisor Ed Michalenko reminded attendees that the village lies within DeWitt's borders, “and the village residents are town of DeWitt residents.”

“The town of DeWitt would provide police coverage to the village of East Syracuse no different than any other part or portion of DeWitt,” he said, adding that the town has no position on the proposal.

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci followed, and told residents that a merger with the town would result in a yearly savings of $249 for a property assessed at $100,000.

Under a shared-services contract between the village and the town, the village would pay $400,000 a year to the town, which would in turn bring on the village’s six full-time police officers, Antonacci said.

DeWitt Police Chief Gene Conway said if a merger were to take place, his department would add a patrol post encompassing East Syracuse that would be staffed by those officers brought on from the village department.

There would be a minimum of one officer patrolling East Syracuse at all times, he said. The village is currently patrolled by two police officers.

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