Mayors to meet over police officer issue

Whitehall Village Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti will seek out his counterpart from Granville soon to talk money.

The money talk will center on $15,777.04 that the village of Whitehall can claim from the village of Granville in training expenses for officer Mark Morrill, who transferred from the Whitehall Police Department to the Granville Police Department earlier this year.

The issue arose when the Granville Police Department hired Morrill as a full-time member, which came seven months after Morrill had graduated from training.

According to General Municipal Law, a municipality with a population under 10,000 would be able to get money back from the department that hired away the officer based on time served within a three year period, according to Whitehall Police Chief Matthew Dickinson.

“Under General Municipal Law, we have a three year time period from the time that he was trained that we can collect on,” said Dickinson at an earlier meeting of the Board of Trustees. “Mark graduated in July and was gone seven months later, so we can recoup 83 percent of all his training expenses and salary from Granville.”

At the July 6 meeting of the board, village attorney and New York state Assemblyman Tony Jordan returned to the board with the calculations to just how much would be owed the village, coming up with the $15,000-plus figure.

“What we have been looking into under the law is if we are entitled to any money and how do we calculate that amount,” said Jordan.

“This is the amount that, according to the law and the equation that goes into figuring this stuff out, we are entitled to,” said Putorti.

Trustee Kenneth Bartholomew said he was concerned that no one had talked with people in Granville about the matter.

“Did anyone ever go talk to anyone in Granville?” questioned Bartholomew. “It seems like we are going about this the hard way when we should be talking to everyone and try it the easy way.”

Putorti said he would move forward by trying to set up a meeting between himself and Granville Mayor Jay Niles.

“That’s the easy way and the best way to go at this,” said Bartholomew. “There needs to be a talk, mayor-to-mayor, and tell them that this is what we have found out and what we are owed and see if they will pay it.”

Bartholomew also added that he wanted to make sure it was understood that at this point, suing never has been considered as an option for getting the money the village feels it is entitled to.

“There is no sense in suing anyone without going about this the easy way first,” he said. “I want to make it public and make sure that everyone understands that the only option we are looking into at this time is to talk with them.”

In an earlier meeting, Bartholomew said he was upset that coverage of the situation made it sound like the village would be issuing a lawsuit against Granville.

 “This got out in the paper and I am not happy that it got out there,” said Bartholomew. “There has never been anything said about us trying to sue them for this money, and I feel that it would behoove us to start at the low end of this and meet with the departments than start with a court action.”

Trustee Walter Sandford said he was in favor of the talks and agreed with the law.

“I think that this is a great idea,” said Sandford. “We can take this and apply the money toward the future training of our officers.”

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