Barker Police Department abolished

·2 min read

Aug. 10—BARKER — Trustees in the Village of Barker and Mayor Aaron Nellist abolished the Barker Police Department after a brief public hearing on Monday night.

Residents of Barker gave their input and concerns but concluded that the hey-day of the village police force was over.

Martin Padilla said that he had supported the department early in the millennium and had even donated $500 toward a police vehicle.

"I was enthusiastic about it, because I thought it was going to be a small thing," Padilla told the board. "It seemed to get out of hand and a few years later, I thought, too expensive."

The village board also gave attendees packets of spread sheets — at the Monday night meeting — itemizing the cost of running its own police department. According to the sheets, $26,925 had been expended in 2021, or 5.7% of the budget. In years past, the policing service cost the village more than $60,000 such as in 2009 when 19% of the budget was used and again in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Also according to the packet, the highest number of calls was listed as being 155 in 2016 and the most hours expended being 837.50 in 2019.

Kurt Lutz said that police had given a bad name to the village in the 1990s when visitors and residents alike had been getting pulled over for traveling one mile over the speed limit.

"People won't come here. People still remember those days," Lutz said. "Obviously we can't maintain a police force. ... I think Barker Police Department should be abolished immediately."

Lutz also said that the Somerset police were approachable and could be counted on to listen to residents' concerns.

Greg Kerth spoke of the past when a police department was needed, but believed the time had come and gone.

"We had need for a police force, and we also covered the town," Kerth said. "When the current supervisor came into office, he did away with that. ... The number of businesses you have here are dwindling, some because of COVID, some because of other reasons. ... This police department is not a revenue producing department, it's an expense."

Jon Hotaling, a resident, also agreed it was time to let it go.

"I've always thought it was ridiculously to have two police communities in the same town," Hotaling said. "It served absolutely no purpose, at all."

Nellist said he was surprised that, of the speakers, not one had asserted the view that the police department should remain, though they had seen its value in the past.

"I share some of the sentiments that some of you have expressed," he said. "There were a lot of good things during this time."

Nellist concluded, however, that the police department wasn't the way to "spend taxpayers' money."

The board then voted unanimously to abolish the police department.

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