Questions Pelham mayor’s call for more police, ‘three white males’ who serve on village panel, lack of female cops

To the editor:

I am writing in regard to two related issues: Increasing diversity in the Village of Pelham Police Department and the mayor calling for an increase in the force overall, stating that the size is “grossly inadequate.” First, the panel convened per the governor’s order to increase diversity is, inexcusably, made of three white males, all of whom have served the village and thus perpetuated the lack of diversity during their tenure. Second, the mayor did not state that the mandate includes female officers as part of the diversity initiative, demonstrating just how out of touch this panel is.

Given that in my 32 years in Pelham I can point to only one female officer, the gross oversight is basically an indication of the complete lack of desire to add women to the police force, or on the fire department or in really any leadership role in the village. The diversity panel needs to be, well, diverse. Three white men, the product of cronyism and nepotism are simply not equipped to opine on this issue.

In addition, the mayor’s blanket statement that an increase in the force is needed is completely devoid of data to back that up and tone deaf to the current state of affairs in this country; a call for defunding police (or at least considering the discriminatory enforcement by the police which I have experienced as a woman and others have expressed to me), as well as the economic impact an increased budget would have on the many retirees, underemployed, unemployed and people with real risk of becoming unemployed due to Covid. Further, there have been no metrics presented to support an increase in the budget to support additional police and the lifelong benefits they receive that will burden the village budget for the next 30 years. In addition, although the governor also called for and created related budgetary incentives for municipalities to do so, there never has been a meaningful consideration of the multitude of duplicative services by county, sheriff, state and park police that cover the same or parts of the same small jurisdiction. An outside study should be commissioned to determine whether the village police are needed at all, and if so, whether there should be a merger of services with the Pelham Manor police. What is the right size needs consideration in a town of roughly two square miles and 12,500 citizens as well as whether in these dire economic times, this is the right time to increase the budget for this purpose which may force some people from their homes who can ill afford another tax increase.

The fact that the mayor is bragging about a balanced budget when this is the first time in my 32 years that basic waste removal services have been reduced as well as unreliable is demonstrative of how out of step with the economic burdens faced by a significant population of the village that generally is completely ignored by those in power in the one percent.

Patricia Yak

9 Third Avenue