Civilians to Act as Police?
2/19/2013 (Updated 10:56:55 PM)BINGHAMTON -- At Tuesday's city council work session, the proposal of an alternative police patrol took the stage.
District 7 Councilman Bill Berg said the proposal came about to help the community, "Citizens in the city were calling their various council person to talk about the increased crime, the lack of visibility of police in the area."
Berg says there are so many cars in the police force that you might as well use them.
"If a group of shall we say, undesirables, are out on the street corner and a city police car drives by just the visibility of that is a deterrent."
But it won't just be any civilian patrolling, at least not at first. Berg outlined a three-prong plan that includes direct hire of staff, adding retired police officers and recruiting students from the criminal justice department at Binghamton University.
"We continue to get calls from retired police officers both city and state police and sheriff who had some interest in helping us out," said Berg.
But getting the proposal approved hasn't been easy. "There's some issues that we need to discuss and that's what we're doing. We're moving forward."
The biggest issue facing the council Tuesday night was the absence of a key player and Berg was visibly disappointed.
"Mr. Patrick, head of the police union, will not be here to discuss our report and we were looking forward to having him here."
Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski was there but declined to comment either on or off camera. The council still has its sights set on success though, citing a timetable: "Hopefully by the summer to put something together for the fall. That would be our goal."
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