Saugerties gets new police chief

Chief Joe Sinagra. Photo by David Gordon

The Town of Saugerties will have a new police chief, starting Saturday, April 28. The Town Board voted Wednesday, April 18, to appoint Deputy Chief Joseph Sinagra  to the chief’s post.

Chief Louis Barbaria (left) will return to retirement. A former State Police captain, he came out of retirement in December 2008 to take over the top spot at the department. Barbaria is well respected by the brass and town officials. He oversaw the expansion of the town department to cover the village when it was dissolved Jan. 1, 2011.

Barbaria said he’s leaving the department in good hands, having worked with Deputy Chief Joseph Sinagra since Sinagra’s appointment in December of 2011. Sinagra will be taking over as the new chief on Friday, April 27. He formerly served as deputy chief of the Town of Ulster Police Department.


Supervisor Kelly Myers said she is impressed with Sinagra’s work, and she is glad he is taking on the job of bringing the Saugerties department into accreditation, a task he performed in his previous appointment as Town of Ulster deputy police chief.

In moving that the board accept Barbaria’s resignation for retirement, councilman Fred Costello said Barbaria took over the department in a time of turmoil and “immediately brought stability to it.” His signature accomplishment was the merger of the town and village police departments, Costello said, and “I don’t think without his presence it would have been possible. He has elevated the professionalism of our department, and I think that will stay with us for many, many years.”

Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton reviewed Barbaria’s 42 years in police work, starting as a village police officer, moving on to the town force and then to the New York State Police, where he rose to the rank of commander. She praised Barbaria’s “people skills,” saying he could bring people who were at odds together.

Costello said Sinagra’s appointment was also a tribute to Barbaria. “They say the best leaders are those who prepare for when they are not there, and Chief Barbaria made the recommendation to consider Joe. He is already having a positive impact. He has built a rapport with our staff and our departments. His energy is contagious and it’s affecting our department.”

“I have been working with him [Sinagra] closely,” Myers said. “He had an exceptional role in the exceptional outcome of the bank robbery (the robbery of Sawyer Savings Bank in which the robbers were caught within two hours). He is also taking the lead on accreditation, and I think that’s going to add to the professionalism of our department in the future.”

Myers praised Sinagra’s attention to cost-savings, noting that he found a vehicle lease that would save nearly $200 per month over the present leased vehicle for the police chief. The car, a 2012 Chrysler 200, would cost $2,000 down and $189 per month on a three-year lease. The town could not get this kind of a deal on regular police cars because the deal carries a maximum mileage of 10,000 per year, which is within what the chief would drive but well below the annual mileage on a patrol car, which can approach 100,000, Costello explained.