RAMAPO IMPROPERLY DENIES RCT FOIL REQUEST

Police sources tell the newspaper the town is fibbing

Following the FBI raid on town hall in early May, Ramapo police made the unusual move of publicly announcing the overtime costs of an anti-Internet event held by persons within the Hasidic and Orthodox community at the ballpark in Pomona the following week. Police said over $7,500 in overtime costs were charged to the event’s organizers Congregation Khal Torath Chaim, of Monsey. The organizers paid only $5,700 for actual use of the stadium, considerably less than the police costs.

This led the Rockland County Times to make a logical request: a list of other recent events which cost the police overtime and whether they were paid for by private organizers or absorbed by the town. The request was denied as the town said they did not have such a list or information available. However, according to sources within the police department, such a list does exist and the town is not being forthcoming.

Private events often cost police overtime and Sheriff Lou Falco said his office makes sure to bill any such overtime to the private entity. Early in 2013, the wedding of a grand rebbe’s daughter at RCC cost $12,621 in Sheriff’s overtime, which Falco said he made sure to have paid in full by the wedding’s organizers.

Ramapo’s inability to account for its overtime practices when asked in a FOIL request will set a damaging precedent that paints all police departments with potential suspicion. The public has no means of learning whether private organizers or taxpayers pay the costs if the government will not reply to FOIL requests on the matter.

The local police departments (or town boards) should make, follow and advertise a clear policy on when they will charge a private group for police overtime fees and apply it evenhandedly. The current situation is unfair to all taxpayers and unfair to those who are randomly charged for overtime when others are not.

(This article was modified to clarify that the Sheriff’s Department was reimbursed for overtime costs)