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Dear Pine Plains 8.6.21

Dear Pine Plains,Few things get my Irish up as much as ignorant criticism of our Town Police. I happened to confront it last night and I would like to take some time here to once and for all put some old biased thinking to bed and bring everyone up-to-date on why we have our own police force, what they do, who they are and what they face on a daily basis.First of all, let’s talk about money. Were we to contract with the Sheriff’s Department for the same kind of coverage we have now, including extra days for parades and broken water pipes, etc., the cost would be approximately $100/hour. Yes, that is correct. Because that price is based on the officer’s pay, the car, the gas and insurance. We enjoy 5-8 hours of coverage a day, sometimes more, by our Town Police. (Northeast was quoted a sum of about $200,000/year two years ago for their part-time coverage.) Deputies would not necessarily be from Pine Plains nor would they have to adhere to our Police Policy, which is very much in keeping with our rural local culture and very geared to keeping peace as guardians, not warriors.Our annual budget for police work and equipment is $100,000. We get many more hours for that sum. Knowing our people here is key to policing here. Key to our Police Policy is the preference for hiring people who live in town and know our history. They love this place and its people, are raising families here and take a lot of that history into account when having to handle difficult situations that are often emotional.

Our biggest problems are with substance abuse and domestic violence. If this surprises you, it’s because our police do their jobs their best to de-escalate problems before they become newsworthy. They also go a long way towards helping people to never repeat their mistakes.

Here are our officers, in a nutshell:

Michael Beliveau: E-4 Army Specialist, Airborne Infantry, Iraq War; Albany County Sheriff, SWAT Team; certified (by NYS DCJS) instructor in Firearms, Patrol Rifle, Taser, Aerosol restraint, SWAT Tactics, Active Shooter, and more. Since 1999. Resident, Pine Plains.

Steven Camburn: E-4 Corporal, Marines; Combat Instructor, Tactical Operations, two tours in Iraq, numerous awards including Purple Heart, Navy Unit Presidential Citation, Navy Meritorious Unit, Meritorious Mast; PPFD firefighter; Senior Vice Commander, VFW. Since 2002. Resident, Pine Plains.

Mark Perrotta: Hyde Park Police Department assistant; Deputy Sheriff; heavy equipment operator. Since 1998. Resident: Pine Plains.

Officer-in-Charge Sgt. John Hughes: Trained by OICs Couse, Ladoceour, Haire, and Lawson; 14 years as Officer-in-Charge; numerous (too many to count) awards in firearms, conduct, drug enforcement, leadership. Beloved and respected by his officers. Since 1989. Resident: Stanfordville.

All of our officers train constantly, as per our new Police Policy, in use of weapons (a safety measure actually: the more familiar you are with how to use one, the more comfortable you are, the less you actually use one), in cultural bias, in de-escalation, domestic violence, procedural justice, NARCAN administration, and mental illness issues. Training takes place at least once a month. Sometimes more. We can train our own people, better and more often, rather than spend money going outside, since Officer Beliveau is a certified instructor. All of our officers can maintain our vehicles, which saves us even more money.

All that is left to say on this subject is how much good they have each done for this town. In my 3.5 years in office alone, I know that Officer Camburn has saved more than 4 lives with NARCAN, each a very loved son or daughter here. He has also been unable to save some. As you can imagine, that can be a devastating experience.  All of them have helped elderly folks with wildlife problems; stopped fights, helped settle disputes, counseled teenagers with errant ways and difficult family lives, stopped drunk drivers from killing anyone, de-escalated violent situations between partners and saved both of their lives, and been first on scene to some horrific crashes. That’s just a small sampling.

If you can’t speak highly enough of them after knowing all this, then come to Town Hall and I will show you the records. And give you more of a lecture.

Don’t forget new concerts at The Stissing Center, the Back Bar Beer Garden, and Chaseholm Farm, art and music events at The Platter, great food and drink at the newly open Champetre restaurant, Dutch’s Spirits, Lia’s, Tower Pizza, El Guacamole, The Moose on the Loose…

On the 8th, the Town Rec Girls 10U Team will be celebrated for their season which took them to State Finals with a short parade to the Stissing Center and awards at noon; on the 11th at 12 noon, we will host Seniors at the Community Center for lunch and a talk by Stan Hirson—featuring shorts from his award-winning films. Don’t forget that Town Clean-up Day is September 18th this year, and on 9/11 there will be a reading of the names lost in the attack at Town Hall in Stanfordville. So far, the County Fair is on. Wear your mask and fear not the crowds.

22 more Hometown Heroes will be going up around town in the next few weeks. And transport and installation of the fountain is being  at the new town park as I write this. And for all those curious about what’s going on at the old Deuels location, our historic weigh station is being renovated into an office and the scale is going to be brought back into use by anyone wanting to weigh something big. As in BIG. The main building is being stabilized and anything too ruined is being taken down. The whole place is in the process of being cleaned up.

And you have homework: read, on our website, about the Marijuana Law being proposed and send your opinion to AND read the zoning text changes being proposed for the public hearing on August 19th at 7pm during our next regular Town Board meeting.

Welcome to Pine Plains, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud