A state-level proposal to prohibit the release of arrest records and mugshots is causing serious concern within the Hamptons Police Department. According to accounting disclosed on Thursday, the department has a long-standing practice of using its arrest records and mugshots to generate revenue. While this practice is controversial, the department defends it as financially expeditious.
“We have found that people will pay significant sums of money to prevent the release of their arrest records and mugshots,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says, explaining the revenue-generating scheme. “The money people pay to keep themselves out of the newspaper and off the internet has been a very healthy funding stream for us.”
According to Hirsch, many of those who get arrested, even if they are later exonerated, are happy to continue to pay the department a “maintenance fee” on the first of every month. “Look, right now there’s no shelf life on these assets,” Hirsch says. “They’re pure gold, and our robust financial health depends on our ability to realize a return on the investment they represent. If we’re not allowed to release them, however—boom, there goes that money.”
Hirsch says projects that would be jeopardized if this funding stream were to be cut off include the recently announced five-story, state-of-the-art impound lot and parking facility proposed for the grassy wetlands of Napeague. Also at risk would be the expansion planned for the Hamptons Police Officer Barracks and Rest & Recreation Center on the dunes overlooking the ocean in Montauk. “We’ve already got a scale model for a new kitchen/bar area in there,” Hirsch says. “It’s going to be so beautiful, much like the recent HQ kitchen renovation, which also cost us a pretty penny—$1.5 million, to be exact. This is Chief’s baby, and he’s not going to be happy if we’re forced to scale it back.”
The new State proposal is still in discussions, Hirsch adds, “so keep those maintenance checks coming, folks.”