GERMANTOWN—While the Town Board voted unanimously in August to abolish the Police Department, the final decision in the matter remains to be seen.
The board’s vote is subject to a Permissive Referendum. That is, it does not take effect for 30 after its adoption. During that time a petition may be circulated to put the decision to a referendum at the next general election, November 6.
At press time that petition appeared to have been successfully circulated. It needed signatures from at least 5% of the number of Germantown voters in the last gubernatorial election (2014)–40 people–said Brian DuBois, officer in charge of the Police Department, who is on paid administrative leave.
He says he got 73 signatures.
Wednesday, September 5, was the deadline for submitting the signatures to Joyce Vale, town clerk. Mr. DuBois planned to bring signed petitions to her during her office hours that evening. He said he had been ready on Saturday, but the town clerk’s office was closed Saturday.
Tim Otty and Genette Picicci carried petitions in addition to Mr. DuBois.
“I want us to have something” in the way of a Police Department, Mr. Otty said Tuesday. “There’s a history here, and I don’t want to lose it.
“Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers got their start here,” said Mr. Otty, citing current sheriff David Bartlett and Investigator Foster as examples. “Josh DuBois, Brian’s son, started with the Germantown police and is now with the State Police.
“Community policing has worked wonders here,” said Mr. Otty, “for a tiny cost.” He cited the local police patrolling the town’s parks and providing a presence at school games. “These are community police officers,” he said, “they’re not threatening. I’ve never heard anyone complain about them.”
Mr. Otty also recalled a domestic abuse situation next door to his home that was successfully defused by the Germantown police.
At its June meeting, the Town Board abolished the Board of Police Commissioners and put itself in charge of the Police Department. The decision was made after the Town Board commissioned a report from Harry Corbitt, a former head of the State Police, who identified multiple problems with the two-person department and recommended that it be shut down.