Public Safety

Requirement for Office of Police Chief

The Mandate: Pursuant to the provisions of Civil Service Law ยง 58 (1-c), a city or village with a police department serving a population of 150,000 or less and having more than four  full-time police officers, must maintain the office of chief of police. While NYCOM recognizes the important role that police chiefs play in ensuring the protection of their residents in many communities, this mandate undermines the judgment of elected local officials as to how a municipal police department should be structured.  Furthermore, it fails to recognize that municipalities adopt a variety of different approaches to police management depending upon the size and needs of the community, as well as the availability of municipal resources to fund such needs.

The Cost: This mandate deprives local officials of administrative flexibility in the organization of their police departments, something which is available to them with respect to all other municipal departments. The annual cost of maintaining the office of police chief can range, with benefits, from $80,000 to $180,000.

The Solution:  In recent years, the State Legislature has passed legislation that would have exacerbated the current mandate imposed by this section of law by requiring that the police chief be full-time and by extending the requirements to police departments with a certain number of part-time officers.   Thankfully, these bills have been vetoed by the Governor.  At a time when local governments are facing some of their greatest fiscal challenges, the state needs to do all that it can to enhance flexibility at the local level and allow local leaders to make the most of their limited resources. As a result, this statute should be repealed so that elected municipal officials can determine how best to structure and supervise their police departments.