As President of the New York State Troopers PBA, which represents more than 6,000 active and retired members, I read with interest the June 12 article, “Homeland security vehicles on hold.”
The economic conditions over the past couple of years have caused significant belt-tightening in all areas of public employment, including public safety at the state and county levels. This environment necessitates cooperation between departments, which in turn improves both public and officer safety. Deputies rely on troopers and local police departments for backup and vice versa.
With this in mind, I believe that the Sullivan County Legislature’s failure to allow the sheriff to properly equip his deputies puts us all in danger. There also appears to be a basic lack of understanding regarding law enforcement and the equipment necessary to perform public safety duties. Equipment such as ATVs, although not used every day, are essential in certain cases, from searching for lost persons including hunters, children and people suffering from dementia, to policing large gatherings at Bethel Woods and patrolling Homeland Security infrastructure.
I commend Sheriff Michael Schiff for an innovative approach to a budget crunch, as he has found a way to purchase equipment that otherwise would not be available. To imply that future maintenance costs of these ATVs should be the litmus test to accept or reject the federal funding is, in my eyes, ludicrous. I am well aware of the tax overhead within Sullivan County, as I am a lifelong Sullivan County resident, whose family has been living here for nine generations.
The bottom line is that, as a county resident and PBA President, I am in favor of any item that could increase the safety of my neighbors as well as my members.
Thomas H. Mungeer
President, NYS Troopers PBA