Seven of the eight new police officers hired by the Clarkstown Town Board start training immediately at the Rockland County Police Academy. After completing that course they will continue with instruction from the Clarkstown Police Department before they begin patrol. Seven of the officers are considered hired on a temporary basis until they complete the nine months of training; the eighth officer received a permanent appointment.
The starting salary of the seven probationary officers is $59,398 for a total annual package of $415,786. The officer appointed permanently receives an annual salary of $71,275. The appointments, which the town board approved Tuesday night, came under criticism from town residents, who also questioned the department's handling of a police officer's resignation.
“I don’t understand how you can spend as much money as you do,” said Patrick Godfrey. “We have the highest paid police department in the country. I feel you that you spend money indiscriminately.”
Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said the police department had cut back its staff from 173 to 163 officers included in the town budget. Currently the department has about 155 officers. The new hires will bring the department back up to full staff although Gromack said between three and six retirements are anticipated over the next few months.
Another resident railed against the department’s costs.
“We don’t have that much crime, we need this equipment,” he said and referred to the armored vehicle and SUVs of the police department. “We have one of the most costly towns in the nation.”
Town Supervisor Alex Gromack responded to him, “Everything you said does not really deserve a response from me.”
He went on to say that the resident has asked the same questions over the years and has been given answers. Gromack said it was disingenuous of residents to “knock” the police and then say they “respect” them. He characterized it as “not productive.”
New City resident Frank Grandel criticized the department’s salaries. He said the town board failed to negotiate reasonable salaries and perks and does not control overtime costs. He noted lieutenant with a base salary of $170,000 earned $265,000 with overtime; a captain with a base salary of $263,391 received a total of $270,000 with perks and benefits.
“These abuses and obscenities should end,” said Grandel.