Sheriff Falco Thinks He Is Being Gored?

Ox gore

Sheriff Kralik Thought HE Was Being Gored!

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
The more things change the more they stay the same.

1) Three years ago things were so bad that our County government didn’t even know what its deficit was. Former County Executive Vanderhoef said it was about $50 million while the legislature thought it was about $80 million. Vanderhoef wanted to cut the Sheriff’s patrol.

We read this in the Journal News on November 18, 2011 ……

Rockland County’s proposed $7.25 million law enforcement cuts will increase crime and severely hamstring the county’s abilities to investigate and prosecute people charged with crimes, police and prosecutors said Thursday.

They plan to lobby the county Legislature to restore the money and not eliminate the Sheriff’s Office Police Division. The proposal calls for firing 30 of the division’s 69 officers and transferring 30 others to the legally required inmate transport unit. The proposed cuts mean no forensic investigations at crime scenes, no arson investigations, no bomb squad, a diminished task force to target drug dealers, no horse, marine and anti-terrorism units, and no crime analysts and investigation.

Sheriff James Kralik and others painted a grim picture of law enforcement in Rockland in 2012 during a news conference Thursday attended by more than a dozen chiefs and high-ranking officers along with the county’s top prosecutor. The domino effect of the lack of blood types, DNA, weapons and ammo identification and fingerprints could make it difficult, if not impossible, to solve or prosecute crimes like rapes, burglaries and murders, District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said.

Kralik, who is retiring after nearly 50 years of service, said the cuts would have a “catastrophic effect on law enforcement” and “are so illogical.” Other programs being eliminated include safety initiatives for children and senior citizens, photographing children in case they are abducted, executing warrants, background investigations, DWI patrols, the county SWAT team, and alerting residents to emergencies by telephone. “This will set law enforcement in the county back 50 years,” Kralik said.

The chiefs said they hope the Rockland Legislature overrides the state’s 2 percent cap on tax-levy increases and returns the money to law enforcement. The public hearing on overriding the cap is Dec. 6, the night the Legislature must adopt a budget for 2012. Faced with a $52 million deficit, County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef proposed what he dubbed draconian cuts that included close to 800 layoffs and massive cuts to social programs.

Tim O’Neill, a retired Clarkstown police sergeant who lost the sheriff’s race to Sheriff’s Chief Louis Falco, called the news conference a “dog and pony show” to avoid dealing with financial issues and patronage jobs. “They know the public doesn’t want to cut law enforcement so they are using the police budget as cover and to hide behind the tax hike,” O’Neill said. “This is so they don’t have to address the duplication of effort by the sheriff’s patrol,” he added.

The proposed cuts are $3 million for the department, along with $1.25 million for the transport unit. There would be a cost savings of $2.6 million for the Narcotics Task Force and Intelligence Center in reimbursements for town and village police officers assigned to the task force. If the cuts go through, the Sheriff’s Office would become responsible for the jail, civil orders like evictions, and transporting inmates to and from court. The transport unit comprises part-time, hourly, mostly retired officers who don’t receive benefits. They would be replaced by 30 patrol officers under union contract with the county at twice the cost, officials said. Supervisors and mayors have made clear they would not assign their officers for the countywide intelligence center and narcotics unit without the county paying the costs of the officers.

Developing skills as a forensic investigator takes years of training, police said. Clarkstown has several forensic officers, but Police Chief Michael Sullivan said the department isn’t equipped to handle cases around the county. Kralik said he spoke with the state police and was told the agency would try to help, but faces its own limitation due to budget cuts. Falco said the police division is 8 percent of the county’s $700 million budget and $25 of the average county property-tax bill of $650. He said he ran on a platform of public safety and opposed any cuts to the department. Falco cited the relatively low cost of the programs and said the cuts “would be devastating to law enforcement and the public safety.

2) Today in October 2014 things are so bad that our County government does know what its deficit is. Present County Executive Day says it is about $138.5 million while the legislature thinks he is right. Day wants to cut the Sheriff’s patrol. Day says “we have to address the duplication of effort by the sheriff’s patrol,”

We read this in the Journal News of October 17, 2014 …..

Rockland sheriff blasts Ed Day’s 2015 budget – Rockland Sheriff Louis Falco on Friday called the drastic cuts proposed to his department in County Executive Ed Day’s 2015 budget a threat to public safety.

Day wants to cut 111 jobs next year to cut expenses by about $6.8 million to help keep the property tax increase at the 2 percent tax cap. The list includes 37 officers in the Sheriff’s Patrol Division, including the road and mounted units, according to Day.

But Falco said Friday that Day was really proposing the end of the entire Police Division and all of the Sheriff’s specialty units – the bomb squad, arson unit, crime scene investigation, river patrol, and computer crimes, polygraph and sketch artist services.

“I find myself in a position of disbelief with the actions of this county executive,” Falco said during a news conference.

Law enforcement officers stood with Falco as he condemned the cuts and called them “irresponsible and ill-conceived.” “These proposed cuts will have an enormous and negative impact on public safety in Rockland County,” Falco said.

Falco said under civil service rules, a newer hire with a specialty like arson investigation would be cut in favor of a longer-tenured officer who might not have that skill. But that road patrol officer doesn’t have the training needed to do the arson work, Falco said. He said the scenario would be the same for dozens of officers throughout various units in the police division, effectively crippling the work of the Sheriff’s Department.

In a statement, Day’s spokesman, Scott Salotto, said the administration understood the strong reaction by some members of law enforcement to the proposed cuts. “However, it’s absurd to assert that County Executive Day – a former NYPD detective commander and Baltimore Police chief of detectives – would propose cuts that compromise public safety,” Salotto said. Day said his proposed cuts were needed to help dig Rockland out of its budget deficit, which has placed it atop the state comptroller’s most-fiscally stressed municipalities list.

During a budget briefing Thursday, Day said an “independent assessment” of the Sheriff’s department had been conducted by former NYPD Chief of Patrol Louis Anemone, who concluded that the Sheriff’s Patrol Division could be eliminated without jeopardizing public safety.

On Friday, Falco disputed that conclusion and said the report made positive suggestions for changes to improve efficiency but never concluded that abolishing the patrols was good for public safety. Falco said Day never called him to tell him about the cuts. He said he met with Day to discuss the budget last week and Day never indicated the police division would be eliminated.

Spring Valley Police Officer Phil Fantasia, speaking as president of the Rockland County Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said Day had broken his promise to police officers. “Mr. Day made a promise to the Rockland County PBA last year at this time that he would never, never compromise the security and well-being of our residents by laying off any police officers,” Fantasia said. “Now that we know he is willing to break this promise and put politics again over public safety, I am worried about this, about what is next, and so should you.”

Stony Point Police Chief Brian Moore, speaking as president of the Police Chiefs’ Association of Rockland County, also criticized the proposed cuts. It would decimate decades of carefully planned progress in our capabilities to detect, combat and deter crime in and around our county,” Moore said. He said the Brink’s tragedy in 1981, in which two Nyack police officers and an armored car guard were killed, showed the need for a collaborative law enforcement effort that did not duplicate services but offered specialty teams such as those at the Sheriff’s Department. He said the Sept. 11 attacks required law enforcement to expand into counter-terrorism and that the Sheriff’s Department had played a major role with a countywide bomb squad, SWAT team and radiological monitoring.

Haverstraw town Supervisor Howard Phillips, who spoke on behalf of Rockland’s five town supervisors, said the cuts shifted the burden of law enforcement to towns and villages, which have smaller budgets and would struggle to pay for the type of services offered by the sheriff. “Don’t fall for that gimmick: ‘I’ll pass it on to the Legislature. I’ll give all those legislators the responsibility of restoring it so that I, my office, can look like we’re tax cutters,’”Phillips said.

Will Rodgers once observed that “a government’s budget is like a mythical bean bag; the politicians vote mythical beans into it, then reach in and try to pull real ones out.”

Someone other than the taxpayers needs now to feel the pain of the County’s rampaging deficit bull. Despite tax increases of 31% in 2012, 18% in 2013 and 10% in 2014 the deficit charged from $50 million to nearly $140 million.

The second-highest, and Rockland County’s new top pension of $161,412, belongs to retired Clarkstown police Sgt. Harry Baumann. He now has the fourth-highest pension among retired Clarkstown cops. When asked for a comment he “hung up”.

After Sgt. Baumann the next-highest new Rockland pension went to Sheriff Louis Falco, who retired as chief of patrol in the Sheriff’s Office when he was elected three years ago. His retirement benefit of $136,126 coupled with his salary as sheriff gives him a combined income of $279,000.

Elected officials are exempt from limitations on such ‘double dipping.’ “I worked hard during a long career as a police officer. … I earned that pension,” Falco said, adding that his new salary is “far below” what other police chiefs make in Rockland.”

Enjoy your morning coffee. Your property taxes will be going through your roof because neither the Clarkstown Police nor the Rockland County’s Patrol Unit wish to take any cuts and you have huge pension costs coming your way in future years.  Even when the ‘retire’ they don’t retire.

Louis Falco, as an elected official, is on the horns of a dilemma. If he can’t manage his department efficiently as the taxpayers demand then perhaps he needs to join those legislators who will lose their seats in November 2015 for increasing the deficit by 275% in less than 3 years while prancing around Rockland on the backs of some very expensive horses and many despairing taxpayers.

Falco can then hold another press conference to say: “I find myself in a position of disbelief with the actions of this electorate”On that day Falco will no longer be Sheriff but Day will still be the County Executive.

About Michael N. Hull

Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

About the Author
Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

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