The Putnam Examiner

Carmel Requests Armed Security During Town Hall Hours

We are part of The Trust Project

Armed security guards have become commonplace in schools within Putnam County. Now, it appears guards could be stationed at one town hall in Putnam.

Carmel Supervisor Kenny Schmitt requested that the sheriff ’s office provide two special patrol officers that would require the purchase of new uniforms and equipment to provide security for town hall after incidents have arisen over the past year. The SPO would cover town hall from 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., which is when town hall is typically open Monday through Friday.

SPOs are usually a retired law enforcement official that works for the sheriff ’s office, providing security for school buildings and the county office building. Each SPO is paid at a cap of $30,000, patrol captain Harry Tompkins said. Overall, there are 16 SPOs within the county.

Legislator and protective services chairman Paul Jonke said the Town of Carmel would bear the costs of the SPO services and a contract must be drawn up between the county and town. There is training provided by the sheriff ’s office, which is also covered by the town.

Jonke was in favor of Carmel using SPOs because three times in the last year, town employees needed to “hit the panic button.” While the Carmel police department is directly downstairs from town hall, there isn’t always an officer at headquarters during the day, Jonke said.

“This is something that we should move forward with,” Jonke said.

Legislator Neal Sullivan said while there are SPOs at the county office building and DMV office, by providing law enforcement officers from the sheriff ’s department to the town, the county Legislature would be “opening a new type of business.” It could result in more requests from other towns, he said.

“Where does it end if it ever ends,” Sullivan said.

Currently, no town in the county has a security officer inside its town hall, including Southeast, Kent, Philipstown, Putnam Valley, and Patterson. Sullivan noted the town could pursue SPO officers on its own, but the county already has its own administrative infrastructure in place. Before anything is agreed to, Sullivan wants to review the contract with the proper personnel since the county is entering new territory with new liability issues.

Legislator Ginny Nacerino asked if the town wants SPOs through the county because it would be more cost efficient for them, which Jonke replied in the affirmative.

If more SPOs are necessary, the sheriff’s office has a file of resumes that it could turn to.

“We have the mechanism in place,” Tompkins said.

Still, Sullivan stated there are “incremental costs” the county will need to pay for that won’t be covered going forward by the town, especially if more municipalities request SPOs. It would be a shared service, Sullivan said.

Carmel police chief Michael Cazzari is in support of the measure, Sullivan said.

“This is the sign of the times,” Nacerino said, referencing the uptick in mass shootings in the country. “We all get it, we all acknowledge it.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.