PLATTSBURGH — Police Chief Desmond Racicot is constantly aware that fiscal eyes are upon him, wondering if cuts could be made to the City of Plattsburgh’s biggest department.
Racicot said they try hard to keep costs down in the $6.8 million budget, but the only real way to induce major savings would be to cut bodies.
“Most of our budget is set, and the only way to cut is to look at payroll, and that’s really difficult,” he said.
With 45 full-time officers now and another five new hires on the way, every person serves a vital purpose in keeping the city safe, Racicot says. To reduce staffing, he feels, would put safety at risk.
“We are constantly doing something, and, believe me, there is always something that needs to be done.
“It’s not just the calls we go to. It’s the followups and paperwork and court appearances that have to be done afterward. We don’t just go to a call and then leave and that’s it.”
The chief believes that eliminating positions could have a serious impact on crime in the city.
“Once crime starts to deteriorate in a city, it’s so hard to get back the quality of life you had,” he said.
“That’s why we are always trying to be preventive.”
Racicot said that with its proximity to the U.S./Canadian border, Plattsburgh is ripe for more crime traveling through the corridor from Montreal to New York City.
“We have seen a significant increase in drug overdoses, meth use, heroin use ... unfortunately, there is an unreasonable amount of drug users and abusers in this area, and crime does not know any corporate boundaries,” he said.
Plattsburgh Common Council Councilor James Calnon, who serves as the council’s budget officer, said he doesn’t favor cutting Police Department staff.