Endicott PD: It's bigger than the buttons

By Perry Russom

May 30, 2013 Updated May 31, 2013 at 12:52 AM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The president of the union representing Endicott Police officers -- whose jobs are in question because of a possible merger with Broome County -- says village officials are avoiding the truth.

Police Benevolent Association President Dennis DeWitte said the merger with the county's sheriff's office would be a top to bottom change in their department. That's contrary to what Village Mayor John Bertoni and Broome Sheriff David Harder said Wednesday.

The merger would eliminate the Endicott Police Department and hand over patrol duties to the Broome County Sheriff's Office.

Still, 28 of the department's 35 would keep their jobs, and they would operate out of the same building on Park Street.

Bertoni said the department has been unwilling to negotiate with the village board.

Dewitte disagreed, saying his officers have been willing to negotiate since September, but were pushed to the side by the village board.

"If I was a police officer, why wouldn't I want to go work for the county? Bertoni said Wednesday. "All you're doing is changing from the silver buttons to the gold buttons."

From an officer's perspective, DeWitte said it's beyond that.

"Unfortunately, police work is much more about the color of buttons I wear," said DeWitte. "It's also much more than the color of the pants I wear."

Dewitte said studies show police consolidation may be cost effective. But it could also prove costly to the community.

The mayor said the village would save at least $200,000 by cutting the police force.

"That's what everyone's jumping on," said Endioctt Police Chief Michael Cox. "'Let's wait until we get the final numbers and see what that number really breaks down to."

Referring to recent internet chatter on social media websites, DeWitte said he wants negotiations to move beyond Facebook and Twitter to a professional discussion for the people of Endicott.

The department's Facebook page Wednesday included a lengthy response to Bertoni's comments when they were made public.