Police department shakeups, budget rattle town

0
Share

By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Police department resignations and budget concerns from the police union have led to some voicing concerns over the future of the department. File photo

COEYMANS — The police chief’s abrupt resignation and budget battles between the town board and the officers’ union have rattled the town, with some — including the police officers’ union — voicing concerns it could be the beginning of the end for the Coeymans Police Department.

Town Supervisor George McHugh adamantly denied the claim.

“There is no truth to that,” McHugh said. “We have said it a million times before, we will say it again – we have no intention of getting rid of the Coeymans Police or dissolving the Coeymans Police. We will look for a new chief and we will drive on. There have never been plans to dissolve the department.”

Police Chief Douglas Keyer, who was appointed to head the department in January 2021, resigned Friday, effective immediately.

Keyer could not be reached for comment at press time.

His resignation comes amid budget squabbles between the town board and the Coeymans Police PBA, the union representing the local police force.

The union claimed in a statement Friday the board is looking to defund the department.

“The members of the town board of Coeymans are deliberately and methodically defunding your police department in the town of Coeymans,” according to the online statement on social media, which was posted the same day as Keyer’s resignation.

The posting cites several budget cuts over the last two years, including a reduction in service from the local department.

“As of March 1, 2022, the Town of Coeymans Police Department will no longer be available for any calls for service, both emergency and non-emergency, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.,” according to the union.

The town’s law enforcement coverage is also served by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, which has a substation in the town.

In addition to Keyer, several other officers are leaving the department, including E.J. Seney and Dawn LaMountain, Deputy Mayor Nancy Warner said Friday.

“So you tell me what’s going on over there,” Warner said.

LaMountain said Monday she is retiring after more than 30 years of service and her retirement has been planned for some time and has no connection to the current situation in the police department.

The village board has no control over the operation of the Coeymans Police Department, which falls under the jurisdiction of the town board.

The police union stated the department’s budget woes will make it difficult to carry out its mission.

“The Coeymans Police Department cannot operate efficiently or safely with the funding changes voted on by the Coeymans Town Board and we fear this is the beginning of the end for your police department,” according to the union.

Following Keyer’s sudden resignation, McHugh said he was not aware of the reason but said Keyer never intended to stay on long. He is retired from the New York State Police, where he served as a captain for 11 years, and then as the major of Troop T for two-and-a-half years. Prior to his retirement, Keyer was director of the state’s Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Counter Terrorism, according to his professional profile.

Coeymans Police Chief Douglas Keyer, who resigned Friday, at a town board meeting Dec. 23. File photo

“He was only on on a waiver,” McHugh said. “He was retired from the state troopers, so we had to get a waiver from his retirement for him to work and earn more than $35,000. That was coming up in July. I also think his vision of the Coeymans Police Department and the board’s vision of the Coeymans Police Department were not quite aligned.”

McHugh said the town was looking for a department with a different focus and cited budgetary reasons.

“He had a different vision — we are looking for community policing. The town board wants a community-centric police department. We have the sheriff’s department here and they supplement us with two patrols 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” McHugh said. “That saves us money. I am not looking to build a metropolitan police department in Coeymans. We can’t afford it.”

McHugh said Keyer did not cite the department’s budget as his reason for leaving. The town supervisor said he did not know the reason, but funding was a regular issue.

“Our discussions on a day-to-day basis revolved around him asking for things and the board giving some and not giving others,” McHugh said.

“I love our police, but at the same time I have to hold the line on taxes and I have to hold the line on spending,” McHugh added. “We can’t always have everything we want.”

The town will next look to hire a new chief. In the interim, Sgt. Daniel Braden, who works part-time for the department 30 hours a week, is currently at the top of the department’s chain of command, McHugh said.

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to clarify that Dawn LaMountain is leaving the police department due to a long-planned retirement, not resignation, and is not connected to the department’s current situation. We apologize for any confusion.

Related Posts