Future of Owego Police is in the air

By Perry Russom

August 4, 2014 Updated Aug 4, 2014 at 6:34 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Monday night could be the beginning of the end for the Owego Police Department.

The Village Board is set to vote on filling two vacant full-time officer positions, but this vote could be a sign of new things to come.

"This is a changing point right now," said Owego Police Union President Brett Kobylarz.

Monday's vote is a litmus test for how the trustees feel about the future of the Owego Police Department.

"Obviously if they aren't filled, we will be looking at our options from the union's standpoint," said Kobylarz.

Last week, Action News reported talks that surfaced about a split patrol of the village between Owego Police and the Tioga County Sheriff's Office to save taxpayer money.

"The trustees on the board need to look at set aside the emotion and the tradition and look at the finances," said Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard.

If Owego Police were to fold, Howard has offered to have his deputies do the job.

"If you're going to have a police department, have a police department, But you're going to have to spend millions of dollars for it," said Howard who calls Owego home. "You can't do it with three or four people."

In the winter, Howard assigned a deputy to patrol the village. That resulted in 100 traffic tickets and about 60 arrests.

Howard said if the village's patrol is taken over by his office, he would not look to add the Owego Police officers to his department.