SILVER CREEK – Silver Creek Police Chief Tim Roche is concerned about the future of the village Police Department.
In the last six months, four veteran members of the force opted to transfer to other police agencies.
And the question of whether or not the end is near for the Silver Creek Police Department appears to be on the table.
Roche said he has not been able to get a straight answer as to where the Silver Creek Village Board stands on this question.
Mayor Kurt Lindstrom agrees that the department has had a lot to be proud of during its history, but said that the loss of the three full-time officers and their sergeant dealt it a serious blow.
He said that the board is looking at options, including dissolving the department, and pointed to the recent announcement of a plant closing as indicative of the fiscal challenges ahead.
“The loss of the Petri Baking Products business has made us realize that the financial issues are very serious,” said Lindstrom who last week presented a $385,000 spending plan that is about $36,000 less than the current budget.
Roche, a 32-year veteran of the department, runs a full-time, 24-hour-a-day department with two full-time officers and himself. He supplements that with part-time help.
But the Village Board will not allow him to call in candidates to talk about full-time jobs on the force despite having several applicants.
In January, his sergeant of 17 years decided to leave the department. Steve Romanik resigned to join the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office. Romanik’s wife, Amy, serves as village deputy mayor.
Roche thinks those circumstances sent a message to the other officers that the board is considering dissolving the department.
Lindstrom said he will not run for re-election this spring, and he said Deputy Mayor Romanik also has decided not to seek re-election. So the decision to keep the Police Department as a full-time force will be left to a new mayor.
Roche thinks if the board wants to dissolve the department, residents should get their say.
The village’s next budget meeting is Thursday.