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Waverly refines plans for constable position

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MALONE - Waverly town officials plan to have a job description ready next month to set the stage for hiring a town constable or two to help reduce criminal activity in the area, especially during warmer months.

Town officials in September spoke about creating a position to perform police and minor judicial functions, since the town doesn’t have a police department and New York State Police aren’t always available to patrol the area. Money for the post was included in the town’s 2014 budget.

Waverly Town Supervisor Michael Bailey said he wanted a constable that was working 20 hours a week. The pay previously discussed was $15 an hour.

“We probably should employee two constables on a part-time basis, so we have coverage” said Waverly Town Councilman Ernest Witkowski at the board’s regular meeting Monday.

Mr. Bailey said he wanted the town board members to work on the job description.

Town board members present at the meeting decided to do more research on the position for next month’s board meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17.

“Then I’m going to send it to [Franklin County Personnel Officer] Paul Duffee,” Mr. Bailey said.

Mr. Bailey said one of his ideas is to make sure the constables are out on the weekends, “particularly Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights,” he said.

Waverly Town Justice Hal Fraser said he would also do his research on the position.

“The last I was told was that if you hire a constable, all they can do is take down a deposition to give it to the state police,” Mr. Fraser said. “I like that kind of idea,” Mr. Bailey noted.

“I have no idea if they can go any further,” Mr. Fraser continued. “They can’t hold the person or anything like that to my knowledge.”

However, a description of a constable’s position in Onondaga County that Mr. Duffee provided to town officials states a constable has the power to do far more than simply take depositions.

“The work involves responsibility for performing the duties of a Peace Officer, by assisting law enforcement officers in maintaining order in the community,” read the Onondaga County description.

According to the Onondaga constable document, constables can carry out warrantless searches “whenever such searches are constitutionally permissible and act[s] pursuant to his/her special duties.”

The document also notes that constables can make warrantless arrests, are allowed to use physical and/or deadly force “in making an arrest or preventing an escape.”

Constables can also issue appearance tickets, uniform appearance tickets pursuant to “article 27 of the parks, recreation and historic preservation law,” simplified traffic informations related to vehicle and traffic laws, uniform navigation summonses and complaints and issue uniform appearance tickets in accordance with Environmental Conservation Law, according to the document.

Constables may take custody of firearms “for the purpose of disposing, guarding, or any other lawful purpose,” according to the document.

The constable may also have the power to issue traffic summonses and complaints “for parking, standing or stopping violations pursuant to the vehicle and traffic law,” according to the document.

The requirements for the constable in Onondaga County require the candidate to be knowledgeable of the New York State Criminal Procedure and Penal Laws and the legal system.

Candidates must also show good judgement, be proficient with firearms and in good physical condition.

According to the Onondaga document, candidates must be at least 18 years old with a valid New York driver’s licence and must have graduated from high school, possess a GED or possess a United States Armed Forces General Education Certificate.

Town Councilman Lawrence Cheney said he isn’t “big” on the idea of hiring a constable and is concerned about what the town could be spending in the long run.

“One thing we have to be careful on is every time we hire an employee, that employee, down the road might buy into the state retirement system,” Mr. Cheney said. “If they do, they buy in at 3 percent and we would be paying [approximately] 12 percent of his or her past wages into the state retirement system.”

“Whoever we hire, we have to offer them retirement at that time,” Mr. Bailey said.

But Mr. Cheney noted they don’t have to accept it at the time.

“But down the road they can come back and say yes,” Mr. Bailey added.

Mr. Witkowski said he was glad it was brought up “because it’s part of the package we’re going to look at.”

The town board will also see if the town will have to pay the retirement percentage even if who they hire is already retired.

“Once the position is officially created, you can then begin the process of hiring for the position,” Mr. Duffee stated in a letter he sent to Mr. Bailey in the fall.

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