Wolcott Police Controversy Continues
WOLCOTT - A village board member who resigned last month is calling into question how the municipality is rebuilding its police department.
“I am not willing to accept the liability of the police,” Gary Baker said about why he tendered his resignation at the end of a meeting in December.
Baker is questioning the depth of the background checks that were done on Chief David Smith, and other officers who have been hired since Smith took over in the fall.
But Trustee Ken VanFleet, who is now police commissioner, said Baker’s assessment isn’t accurate. VanFleet said the two part-time police officers who have been hired, as well as Smith, who is full time, is state Department of Criminal Justice Services-certified. All of their references and backgrounds have checked out, making them suitable for employment.
Smith, of Phelps, came from a part-time position in Clyde to take the chief’s job at the end of October. Previously he worked at the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department as a road patrol deputy, but resigned that position. VanFleet said the majority of the village board was apprised of Smith’s background and employment history and found it sufficient.
But Baker said he wasn’t satisfied and wanted a formal background check done before the men were hired, however he was told it wasn’t necessary. He did not find what he called a simple reference check done by Mayor John Monson enough.
Smith said he wants to get the police department back on an even keel and raise its level of professionalism. He is the department’s third chief since David Miller retired in June of 2007 after 12 years. At one point, the village board considered dissolving the department.Louise Hoffman Broach | Wayuga Editor
Tuesday, January 12 2010