Westchester County Board of Legislators Minority Leader John G. Testa
Statement on Hiring of Three County Police Officers
One of the reasons the entire GOP Caucus voted to pass the 2016 budget was because it added back three County Police positions, which the County Executive had proposed cutting. We voted for the budget based on the understanding that these three critical public safety positions would be filled. It has taken a little longer than we wanted or expected but I’m happy to say that those positions will be filled starting with the July 18th pay period. We are partners with the County Executive in managing the finances of Westchester County and sometimes partners have differing opinions on how to prioritize spending and savings. The Board of Legislators Coalition that passed the budget (8 Republicans & 2 Democrats) felt that Public Safety was a priority that should be fully funded and that our County Police Department should be fully staffed.
We remain committed to protecting taxpayers and I would say that six consecutive years without an increase to property taxes is solid proof that we are succeeding in that effort. Those Legislators who voted for the 2016 budget have worked with the County Executive over the first half of this year to carefully manage our operations to find savings wherever possible. I’m happy to say that with the sale of the Austin Avenue property in Yonkers and finding operational savings throughout the county, we are confident that this year’s budget is working well to provide the services our residents need while continuing to protect our already overtaxed homeowners.
The 2016 budget was a difficult negotiation and required a lot of compromise and good faith. The hiring of these three officers was a critical piece of that negotiation. We must stand by our never ending support for the safety and security of our residents and a critical component of that is maintaining a sufficient size police force. Westchester has a tremendous amount of parkland to cover and with the safety concerns we share as a nation we need more police presence, not less. Hiring these officers is a good start but we must look to continue to find ways to fill the vacancies that remain.
We thank County Executive Astorino for following through with the hiring of these officers and look forward to working closely with him in the future to continue strengthening Westchester County’s public safety capabilities.
Video News Release of announcement: