Our Croton police headquarters is cramped and woefully inadequate. It is also potentially dangerous. We’ve known this for a long time, but the cost of a modern, stand-alone facility is just too high. So, earlier this year the Croton Village Board approved a Village staff concept for a renovation that would consolidate and rationalize police operations in a segregated, secure space on the entire first floor of the Municipal Building.
Last week the Board agreed to hire a specialist firm to design and cost the schematics for this possible renovation of the police department. Their work will show us what our needs would cost. And we can then decide whether or not to go ahead.
The police do much work in the service of the community, although for privacy reasons details are often not released to the public via the Blotter. They respond to every fire and auto accident. This is a safe community: Croton had a violent crime rate of just 48 per 100,000 residents in 2017, way lower than the national rate of 383 per 100,000. But these days that is not something that can be taken for granted. We need to be prepared. Ever more professional crime prevention and response capacities are essential in this age of random violence.
Our department is cost-effective and has police numbers comparable to similar communities in Westchester. For example, Hastings has a population of 7,500 and a force of 21 officers while Pleasantville, pop. 7,000, has a force of 22 officers. Our Village of 8,200 has a budget for 21 officers.
Having a local police force with officers who are truly knowledgeable and sensitive to the community requires extra emphasis on training and discipline. The Croton police are now operating on modern professional standards. They have adopted community policing approaches and have increased their training. Now we want to give them the professional facilities that would support these improvements.