The Saugerties Police Department came in the black for the sixth year in a row, according to their annual report for 2018, and purchased a range of new equipment that will be used this year.
“We’re seven years post consolidation and we’re operating on less money than it was predicted we’d be operating on,” said Police Chief Joe Sinagra, who explained that although the department went over their 2018 budgetary allocation, their fundraising efforts ultimately brought them out of the red. “As I’ve always preached, we’re not in the business to make money … that money all goes back to the general fund to help the town maintain and keep a fund balance.”
Sinagra was quick to mention that the Saugerties Police Department receives no revenue from tickets issued for parking and moving violations. Officers slipped 1,594 tickets under windshield wipers this year and issued 1,984 on the road.
Eighty felonies, four of which took place in December, were recorded, an increase in comparison to 2017’s 52. Total arrests, however, are down from 2017’s 539 to 515 in 2018. There were five assaults in 2018, 35 burglaries, 36 larcenies and two robberies. At 24, there were twice as many sex offenses in 2018 compared to 2017. Since 2013, Sinagra said, the department has noted an 89 percent increase in situations that involve mental illness, and transported 153 people experienced “mental health crises” that involved local police this year.
In total, police spent $2,708,630.28 and raised $171,249.98; the town budgeted $2,568,939.00 for the department this year.
The department also obtained a pocket-sized drone, a tool that Sinagra said could help expedite emergency responder’s reaction in certain trying situations.
“When you get someone [who has] barricaded [themselves into a room], they do it and end up killing themselves. Those [types of] events take hours and hour and cost taxpayer’s money,” said Sinagra. “This can help officers come to a faster resolution — this drone can be flown indoors.”
The drone model, called the “Mantis Q” and weighing in at just one pound, can capture sound as well as video. It is outfitted with both voice control and face recognition software, can be manned via a smartphone app and has a flight time of about a half-hour. The Mantis Q will join the department’s other drone, the “Typhoon H” — this more traditional drone has been used in recent years to help officers manage garlic festival crowds, is able to detect heat signatures and can fly itself with an autopilot function.
The department also purchased eight additional body-worn cameras this year, adding up to 35 in total.
In 2019, detectives from the department will attend crime-scene photography and crime-scene technician classes hosted by the county. Sgt. Jeremy Rushkowski and his K-9, Max, will attend IED training paid for with a $15,000 grant; the department will also purchase a personal radiation detector with the grant, which can identify radioactive materials that police dogs can’t detect.