The Scarsdale Police Department adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through personnel and budget reallocations. For example, about $231,000 is allocated annually for school crossing guards. Due to the hybrid education model, however, $288,000 was spent in 2020-21 with the addition of afternoon crossing guards.
An uptick in stolen vehicles and property crime impacted the department’s budget during the past year. “When we talk about high profile investigations and proactive response to crime patterns and trends, they require the use of, and deployment of, all available staff. As crime trends go up, we have to be very judicious in their use, keeping in mind overtime costs and staffing levels,” police Chief Andrew Matturro said. “Officers continue to focus their efforts on criminal activity in the village,” he continued. The police department increased burglary patrol rounds to 5,890 hours in 2020, from 5,700 hours in 2019.
Last year also saw an increase in police department calls. There were 2,375 more calls for police services in 2020 as compared to 2019. The largest change in service calls came from “premise checks” requests, which jumped from 9,690 in 2019, to 15,341 in 2020.
To minimize expenditure, the department postponed the purchase of some equipment in the past year and didn’t carry out certain operations. The pandemic environment affected operations and the department’s ability to meet the goals and objectives set at the beginning of the year, Matturro said. “Some of it just had to do with lockdown and social distancing,” he added, referencing certain training sessions that could not take place. Unusual weather events also affected police activity.
“We anticipate, regardless of COVID,” Matturro continued, “that going forward in 2021-22, the events that were canceled in 2020 will occur again in the future, which we anticipate will affect our resources and staffing levels.” Those are events at which police partner with other village departments, such as Fourth of July celebrations and communitywide parks and recreation department happenings.
The police department is proposing a budget of $7.4 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which is a slight 1.01% decrease from the current adopted budget. Key components of the proposed budget are personnel costs at 96.3% and equipment at 0.6%, with 3.1% covering other costs that may arise.
Budget cuts will come from the patrol division of the department, which responds to emergency calls for service, operates the police department’s communication system, conducts school crossings and animal control operations, and is responsible for planning and coordination with other village departments for unforeseen emergencies.
The proposed budget includes salary step increases for 14 police officers. According to Matturro, any salary increases for the 2021-22 budget are limited to step increases due to current collective bargaining agreements.
Looking forward to the 2021-22 fiscal year, at the top of the police department’s agenda is to comply with Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, which requires each local government in New York to adopt a police reform plan; to seek reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA); and to continue to adapt to a criminal justice reform law that went into effect January 2020 in New York State, which primarily focused on changes to bail and discovery regulations in criminal procedure law. Those agenda items are in addition to continuing to adapt to changes regarding the pandemic, reinstitution of training and village events later this year, and general improvement of policing duties.
According to Chief Matturro, of the 500 police departments in New York State, 158 are state accredited. The Scarsdale Police Department has been state accredited via the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services since 1990, and has been nationally accredited for the past 10 years via CALEA. They remain the only police department in Westchester County to receive national accreditation, and one of six total in New York State.