TUPPER LAKE - The village and town are close to agreement on village police protecting people outside village limits.
Village police have responded to emergencies in the town outside village limits for years, and officers are often the first people arriving on the scene and have to help out with medical emergencies. They've helped save a few lives in the past while waiting for the rescue squad to arrive, village Mayor Paul Maroun told the Enterprise in a phone interview this morning.
But in recent years, the village got a number of legal opinions calling the practice illegal.
"When we got a letter saying it was illegal, I said, 'We can't do this anymore,'" Maroun said. "Yes, everything's worked well so far, but what if something happened? ... The initial thing I have to worry about is the taxpayers of the village."
If village police made a mistake and, for example, someone was handicapped by the action of an officer, the village would be liable, Maroun said.
So the village has been trying to work out an agreement with the town that will allow village police to respond to emergencies outside the village legally.
Town board members Wednesday morning reviewed a proposed contract from the village. Town Supervisor Roger Amell said he and town Attorney Kirk Gagnier had a few concerns, but for the most part the agreement looks good.
They want to make sure that the agreement focuses on village police responding to emergencies, not patrolling outside the village.
"It's a first response if the troopers aren't here," Amell said. "That's mainly what it's for."
The town plans to pay $25,000 for the service, which was included in the town's 2013 budget when it was finalized this fall.
Amell said the town has been talking about the idea with the village since Mickey Desmarais was mayor, but Desmarais was asking for a percentage of the town's assessed value, at least $100,000.
"That wasn't going to happen," Amell said.
Town board members said they had sent the village their comments. They don't plan to act on the contract until their regular January board meeting, scheduled for Jan. 14.
The agreement is for one year, as a trial period. If the town decides it's not working, the board would have to let the village know by Nov. 1.
Maroun noted that the agreement is not intended to get rid of the state police. They will still have main jurisdiction in the town. But village police would have full authority to ticket people in the town as they do in the village.
He called it a quality of life issue.
"It's to protect the taxpayers, and I think it's going to be better for everybody," Maroun said.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.