Dan Rattiner's Stories

Be a Cop: There Are More Benefits to Being One in Sag Harbor Than Might Appear

It’s almost impossible to park in downtown Sag Harbor. The streets are clogged every day with cars and trucks looking for a place to park. They circle around and, in the rare instance when a spot opens up, they pounce. You don’t want to be part of this.

Instead, I would like you to consider a unique solution to the parking problem, at least for me personally and, if you wish to join me with this new opportunity I will now present, you.

Sag Harbor Mayor Gilbride announced two weeks ago that he is looking to disband the Sag Harbor Village Police Department and have it taken over by others. The problem, as it usually is, is about money. The current police union, which represents nine officers, one detective and two sergeants, wants them to be paid more money.

Mayor Gilbride says the village cannot afford to do so. An average policeman in that village today, according to the Mayor, makes $105,000 a year base salary plus, if you include overtime, vacation, bonuses, medical and retirement pay, a total of $178,000. And now they want a 4.5% increase a year for each of the next three years.
The mayor and the police union have been in negotiations now for over a year without a resolution. The mayor says it’s over. State mandated laws cap property tax increases to just 2% a year. This pay increase cannot happen. And so he is reaching out to consider contracting one of the three other police departments that could have jurisdiction over Sag Harbor if they wanted to. These are the Southampton Town Police, the East Hampton Town Police and the Suffolk County Sheriff. But for all of them, doing this would present problems. For one thing, the Suffolk County Sheriff is not the sole police force anywhere else on eastern Long Island. You’d have to go 40 miles to the west to find a village or hamlet without a local force. So Suffolk County Sheriff is out.

As for the other two, the problem is Division Street. Yes, there is a Division Street in Sag Harbor and it goes north to south and on one side of the street is Southampton Town and on the other side of the street is East Hampton Town. The Sag Harbor police jurisdiction being offered up would need to keep law and order on both sides. Can you imagine Southampton Town Police trying to chase somebody across Division Street into the other jurisdiction?

So that leads to you and me. I’m looking for a partner here. Somebody with big bucks. Maybe it’s you.
What I propose is that we form Sag Harbor Cops LLC, a private company. We’ll need nine new officers, two detectives and several clerks. And that’s it. There’s already a beautiful new police station for us to take over. Sag Harbor just built it. I bet with a little strong-arm tactics we could persuade Mr. Gilbride to rent it to us for $1 a year.

As for staff, I’d like to point out that patrolling Sag Harbor is a piece of cake. The place is filled with happy, law abiding, concerned people. In Sag Harbor the slogan is not “see something say something,” it’s “see something DO something.” Very often you see public-spirited citizens on Main Street escorting criminals down to the police station. They grab them by the ear and tug them along. They come. Alert Sag Harbor citizens also polish the benches, water the flowers and clean up the trash on Main Street. Anybody drops even a hankie in that town, look out. It’s all over.

And the level of surveillance doesn’t end with just law and order. When some big chain store wants to bring a new “unit” into town, the local citizens rise up and protest. Mayor Gilbride and the police don’t have to do a thing. The chain stores just back out, turn tail and run.

Actually, tar and feathers are sold at the Sag Harbor 5 & 10.
So here’s what we do. We form Sag Harbor Cops. We hire some of those valet parking people who take care of the cars at fancy parties—they are already in uniform—give them a badge, and during the day they are cops while at night they can do their other job. I can’t see them wanting more than $70,000 a year. Can you? Also, we could get some of those car-parking kids with the chalk on the stick to come work for us. Young people today can’t get jobs. Here’s one where we can pay $35,000 a year and they can live with their parents. Why wouldn’t they want to do this?

With all this done, I think you, my friend and partner, and I will have solved our parking problems in Sag Harbor. Wherever we want to park, we just do. We’re the cops. Does a bear poop in the woods? Does the sun rise in the east? If there is some question about the place we park, we just put up tape, which says CRIME SCENE or something. That’s all we need to do.

In addition to all this, I think we can actually make money being the Sag Harbor Cops. We can fine people. We can give out tickets. We can negotiate with the Village and do this job for far less, but make the spread big enough so there is a net profit in it.
Who is up for this with me?

Brought to you by Canine Control Company in Southampton


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