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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 29, 2009

Cops drop gripe

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Guilderland police have switched their stance on raising concerns over public safety.

Last month, a majority of the police union voted to draft a letter to the supervisor, the wake of cuts to overtime hours, expressing concerns that public safety and the safety of patrol officers are compromised by a lack of manpower.

The Enterprise ran a front-page story on the issue last Thursday.

At a union meeting on Thursday, an overwhelming majority of members voted not to send the drafted letter, according to Brian Forte, the president of the Police Benevolent Association.

The PBA had previously voted, also by an overwhelming majority, to have the letter drafted by its attorney, Michael P. Ravalli. The purpose of the letter would be to inform Kenneth Runion, the town supervisor, who is up for re-election next week, that the Guilderland Police Department had concerns about public safety due to lack of shift coverage. (For the full story, go to www.altamontenterprise.com, under Guilderland archives, for the week of Oct. 22).

Forte said that, since a new patrol officer, Matthew Hanzalik, was hired and will be sworn in on Oct. 30, many officers felt the letter was no longer necessary.

“I think it’s clear that the department, the chief of police, and the supervisor are working toward the same goal,” Forte said. He said if the department decided that hiring part-time officers is necessary, the contracts would have to be opened and re-negotiated, something that probably would not happen until next year.

Runion said that hiring Hanzalik brought the staff up to full capacity — 34 officers, he said. He said that, since the year 2000, six officers have been added to the police department staff, which is an increase of 30 percent over nine years. At the same time, the town’s population has increased to about 34,000; the largest venue for arrests is Crossgates Mall.

The potential for hiring retired Guilderland Police officers to work part-time is still open for discussion, Runion said, echoing Forte. The supervisor also said that the possibility for enhanced retirement packages still exists, although no conclusive decision had been made.

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