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PBA Head: Board Members Underestimate Police Work

Vincent Gruppuso writes in response to comments made a town board meeting last week.

Dear Editor:

Disappointment and disbelief was what the members of the Town of Bedford Police Department felt after reading comments made by several Bedford town board members in an article published last week.

Many members of the Police Department grew up in town and still live here. Others have family and close friends who live in town. It is with great pride with which the members of the Bedford Police Department serve their community. In last week's article one of the board members was quoted as saying “We have no crime in this town, we’ve had a couple of burglaries.” 

I suggest you ask the resident of East Lake Drive, the victim of a violent home invasion who was assaulted in her home by two armed men wearing ski masks, what her opinion would be?  Ask the family on Broad Brook Road, which had been victimized during a violent home invasion by a masked gunman.  How about the young girl who was attacked on a public access walking trail in broad daylight? I believe these victims among many others would have a much different opinion regarding crime in Bedford. If you owned one of the many cars which were broken into while you were out for a walk, and your belongings, cell, laptop, cash and jewelry were stolen, what would your feelings be about crime in Bedford?

In fact, the Bedford Police Department has investigated 20 burglaries so far this year—a far cry from the two portrayed.  In addition to these burglaries, members of the department have investigated over 425 other criminal matters and have made 203 arrests. These cases include burglaries, arsons, larcenies, domestic abuse, assaults as well as sexual abuse and many other crimes. 

Much of the Police Officers actions are proactive rather than reactive. Officers have issued over 2,400 traffic tickets. We have issued countless warnings, as well as effecting 49 arrests for drunk and drugged driving.  It is this commitment and dedication that has made, and continued to make our community one of the safest places in New York State to live, work and visit.

The Bedford Police Department is so much more than a crime fighting, ticket writing department.  Most of our officers are trained New York State Emergency Medical Technicians. So far this year we have responded to over 518 ambulance calls, often times arriving in the crucial minutes before an ambulance or paramedics arrive.  We deliver life saving aid to your family and loved ones in their time of need.  We have responded to over 430 motor vehicle accidents, many with injuries, each a traumatic incident for those involved.  When there is concern for a loved one who a family member cannot make contact with we respond. We have, without hesitation responded to 49 such welfare check requests so far this year.  We have worked tirelessly through severe storms responding to calls for downed trees, downed power lines and flooding. The list goes on and on.
   
There is mention in the article about looking into cuts to the police department. The fact of the matter is your police department has already been cut to bare bones. Manpower has been reduced 16% over five years. That’s a huge cut to a 45 member department. 

Our men and women work tirelessly to cover a town spanning 39.3 square miles consisting of three hamlets, Katonah, Bedford Hills, and Bedford Village, with a total population of over 17,000 people. At current staffing levels we are covering this area with the bare minimum, three patrols on the road answering calls, conducting traffic enforcement, checking neighborhoods and businesses, along with numerous other duties.

There is one officer working the desk who is responsible for dispatching patrols on the road and answering phone calls on both regular lines as well as 911 emergency calls.  That officer is also responsible for handling walk in complaints and reviewing reports, as well as numerous other police duties. All of the officers of the Bedford Police Department have at times worked too many hours on too little sleep for one purpose, to keep the people of the Town of Bedford feeling secure and safe in their homes and businesses. The idea that we are just “driving around Bedford all night long”, as one councilman put it, is an insult to the men and women who are proud to wear the Bedford Police uniform.

A councilman mentioned, to his dismay, that the Halloween Parade was no longer taking place. The blame was placed squarely on the members of the Bedford Police Department for wanting to be paid X dollars to work the detail.  What the councilman failed to mention was that in years past there were more police officers working each day and the need to hire police officers on overtime to work such an event would not be required. 

Police Officers work more weekends than not. We treasure those weekends off to spend time with our own families.  It is hard enough on our families for us to be working rotating shifts, including weekends, holidays and overnights. Expecting officers to work special events without compensation equal to the sacrifice of leaving our families on yet another weekend is unfair. The men and women of the Town of Bedford Police Department serve with loyalty, honor, respect and dedication.  We make many sacrifices both seen and unseen because we love what we do.
  
I also take issue with suggesting a Police Department be run like a corporation. A corporation is in business to make money. Profit is the bottom line.  The people of the Town of Bedford expect better, they deserve better.  What is the bottom line on the safety of your business, your home, your family, your children? Regardless, the fact is that based on the Police Department budget and population figures, the Police Department costs each residents less than $1 per day. A small price to pay for safety, security and the peace of mind knowing when you call the Bedford Police Department, a highly trained professional will be there in minutes.  

I’m sure the members of the Bedford town board would love to hear your comments both in writing and in person at the upcoming town board meetings.

Thank you for your time,
Vincent Gruppuso
Bedford PBA President

Feel free to add your opinions as comments below or click here to post a statement.

Andrew Klein October 04, 2012 at 03:26 AM
As a member of the department and a town resident, great response and the facts are out there now.
Michael October 04, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Mike Keating Time for some new Town Board members. Yes I am life time town residence. Ask the Board member when they strolled into Town with there great ideas. I'm not sure what they do anyway? They can't make a decision without commissioning a study or consulting its over payed lawyers. Want to save some money? Get rid of the Boards free medical. See how long they will stay in there jobs.
David Shin October 04, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Here's to the men and women of the Bedford Police and Fire Departments! -David S
Donald Diamond October 04, 2012 at 02:36 PM
The comments made to the Town Board does not fully convey the high degree of courtesy, tact and professionalism of our police force exercised by the members of the Department. It is natural for their duties to place them in emotionally charged situations and they aquit themselves in a manner that should be appreciated by everyone.
John J. Timmel October 04, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I think that the Bedford Police Department does a fine job in keeping our town safe. I thank them for their service to the community and support them 100%.
Dom October 04, 2012 at 04:47 PM
As a life long resident of the Town of Bedford and working closely with the men and women of the Bedford Police Department, I can attest to the professionalism and stress these officers face. These statements made by the board members are uninformed, baseless and misleading to the public. "Driving around all night" is better known as "patrolling" which prevents crime, and maybe the individual that was about to burglarize a home saw that officer and decided to drive away instead. If the board members wish to put a price tag on safety and lives of the residents in town, then go ahead and cut the police depatment's budget that should not be cut any further. A heartfelt THANK YOU for keeping our town safe to the men and women of the Bedford Police Department .
Mike October 04, 2012 at 04:58 PM
TC The men and women of the Bedford Police Department do an excellent job in keeping the community feel safe and secure. Like the article states, those on the force are away from their own families on weekends, holidays, and over nights to keep YOURS protected.
Peter Meineck October 04, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Clearly an insensitive and wrongheaded remark by the member of the town board. One of the reason our community is so safe is because I believe we have a proactive and highly professional police department. I interface with them several times a week as a volunteer EMT and we are lucky to have officers who race to a scene to help those in our community in need and treat them with courtesy and respect. This is not the case everywhere. Not to mention the crimes they investigate and prevent, the traffic duties and watching over our kids coming and going to school everyday. They are there at every medical emergency, every suspected fire event and constantly protecting our homes and property every time an alarm goes off. Yes, they should have been present at the Halloween Parade last year. I don't known what happened and who made that determination but I did feel our kids were at risk from traffic that day. That was not good PR for the police department. I think a lot of parents were very upset that day. This was a misstep which I hope will never happen again but that should not negate the fine work Bedford PD does on a daily basis. A discussion of budgets and financial matters is exactly what the town board should be doing, we need this kind of oversight, but disparaging the Bedford PD as part of that process is inane.
Juliann Salerno October 04, 2012 at 05:09 PM
The Town Board of the town of Bedford is out of touch with all of there departments, but especially the police. Ask them how much money they have wasted on lawsuits brought by police officers who were wrongly accused of breaking departmental rules because they , the board, were clueless as to the departments procedures and the PBA contract. Want to save money, vote in a board that truly cares about the town of Bedford and its residents. To cutback on an already decimated police department would be careless and dangerous to the citizens of this great town! Juliann Salerno , proud, retired member of the Bedford Police.
Ross Revira October 04, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Why is it the only time a Democrat supports the police is when there are discussions on labor cutbacks?
Jason Gideon October 04, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Bedford taxpayers should be furious at Bedford for releasing tax payer info to internet real estate profit making websites that make it easy for criminals to plan these kinds of crimes. Bedford wouldn't release thousands of names to a single individual, yet they went to the trouble of releasing thousands of names to websites. Is Bedford selling too much info to such sites ? Has Bedford done something that might be illegal and certainly puts everyone at greater risk of being the victim of a crime? The victims of these crimes should SUE BEDFORD if they can prove that Bedford gave their info to websites!!!!!! These crimes also put police unnecessarily at risk!!!!
Greg K October 04, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Dear Editor I'm shocked a professional in such a position would make such a comment without knowing the specifics about a certain topic. If crime didn't exist there wouldn't be the need for people such as Police Officers or Military personal. These selfless people put their lives at risk every single day, in harms way to protect the lively hood of the residence of a Town, City, State or Country so every such resident could rest easier. As a resident of this great Town for 37 years, whose family has lived here for over 40 I am happy to say I feel - actually know that we have one of the best Police forces that anyone could ask for. A few months ago Bedford Police were called from our residence where it was thought someone was attempting to enter our residence. Immediately 911 was dialed to the Bedford Town police requesting assistance. Within moments two Bedford Police Officers were at our residence checking the safety of our children, property and well being neighborhood. This is just one act of several that I know of personally where something serious called in as potentially criminal in nature turned out thankfully to be unfounded. As a close friend for many years to all of the Bedford Police Officers and to have worked with them time and time again as a New York State Trooper, my hat is off to them for the job they individually do on a daily basis to help keep this great Town safe. - Thank you
Bea Rhodes October 04, 2012 at 11:31 PM
A thoughtless comment that is hurtful and potentially damaging. I have to wonder how the victims feel hearing that there is no crime in Bedford.
John G. Flynn October 05, 2012 at 12:48 AM
WE NEED MORE POLICE and less POLITICIANS...... Vote Nov.6 "COPS ARE TOPS"
Cooster October 05, 2012 at 01:54 AM
If the Board wants something back from the PBA ,Maybe the PBA could give them back Crime. Quality of life revolves around Great POLICE protection which we have.
Donna Perez October 06, 2012 at 01:42 PM
As a longstanding resident of the Town of Bedford, I am shocked that any person could say our police department doesn't do anything and that we have no crime in Bedford. We are very fortunate to have the quality of care that we have. I have had the pleasure of personally working with the police on several occasions. In an emergency Bedford residence have the privilege to have a police officer at their door in a couple minutes. Often before the ambulance or other help can arrive. In a life threatening situation that is crucial. We would not have this service if the town outsourced our Police to another agency. The police department is at bare bones now. To think that anymore could be cut is appalling. The building in which the police department is located is inadequate for their needs but they manage with what they have. The board member that said the police don't do alot obviously has never needed an ambulance in an emergency or had any contact in an emergency of any other aspect. I thank the Bedford Police for all their hard work, dedication and care they provide my community. Thank you, Donna Perez
susan welch October 07, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I personally have had interaction with the officers of the Bedford Police Department in an emergency situation whereas the officer immediately treated my mother with oxygen prior to the arrival of the ambulance which prolonged her life for many months . The police department often assists in medical situations that require immediate attention. I am also aware personally of another medical assist where an officer provide CPR and revived an individual from cardiac arrest that continues to lead a fulfilling life to the delight of her family. The Bedford Police provide an essential emergency medical bridge to our community as they are the first to arrive typically in any medical situation before the ambulance crew , without their assistance the community would face bleak circumstances. Susan Welch

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