Oneida Police Chief Little talks budget, arrests
ONEIDA — The Oneida City Police Department laid out what’s in its proposed 2023 budget and what it accomplished this past year at Wednesday’s budget meeting.
Police Chief John Little said among the items that changed in his requested budget was the salary line. Little said he had increased the budget from last year to account for a few part-time positions.
“My intention had been to offer the school district a part-time officer,” Little said. “There was also the intent to have a part-time officer in the evidence room to help with the switchover to Madison County’s new system.”
The latter is going to require the most work as Madison County goes completely digital.
“That’s a mountain of work, and with the discovery issues that have come out, we’ve had to play a lot of catch-up,” Little said.
With such a tight budget this year and the need to weigh wants and needs, Mayor Helen Acker cut these part-time positions from her tentative budget.
“I give kudos to our evidence technician, and they’ve done a lot of work, but discovery takes up so much time,” Little said.
Another change in the mayor’s budget is the reduction of the camera budget from $6,000 to $3,000
When the Oneida Police Department upgraded its camera system within the last year, it allowed for more cameras to be installed on the mounts. Grant funding was used to upgrade the interior interview cameras. The money was requested to add extra cameras for additional coverage.
Ward 6 Councilor Tom Simchik asked how far the Oneida Police Department could go with that $3,000.
“We are complete with the camera system now, and we should be able to do some of the extra cameras,” Little said.
Materials and supplies did see a small decrease as well, and this accounts for things like drug testing kits, parking tickets, punch cards, appearance tickets, and more.
When it comes to what the OPD has been up to, Little said that arrests are up from previous years.
“We ended 2020 with 904 arrests,” Little said. “We ended 2021 with 1,035 arrests. And as of the end of October, we were at 1,043 arrests, and we still have two months to go. If we continue to trend like this, we’ll be 20% over last year — which was already a significant number from the year before.”
Ticket-wise, the OPD has written more tickets than last year, with 1,691 as of October.
“Not everyone who stopped should get a ticket, we’re all humans and we all make mistakes,” the chief said. “We want to be understanding, but we’ve seen a drastic increase in suspended licenses and distracted driving.”
There have been around 70 drug arrests this year, and Little said it’s a challenge to make a difference due to bail reform.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We just completed a search warrant downtown and got felony charges out of it. He had felonies, but he was able to just get right back out there.”
“At the end of the day, there’s little support from the state,” the chief continued. “There was another individual arrested, who [was charged with multiple crimes]... and this person is walking around right now, three months later.”
These crimes include third-degree grand larceny, second-degree burglary, third-degree possession of stolen property, second-degree and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree assault, and petit larceny.
Little stated that there was little that could be done other than to work on the problem and hope that something would be done at the state level.
Little said that he was proud of the Oneida Police Department for pulling off “... such a heavy lift.” But moreso, he’s proud of the community engagement officers have been participating in.
Besides just being a friendly face in the community, Little said officers are using their few weekends off on rotation to attend community events, from the Fall Fest and Trunk or Treat to Cops and Bobbers.
“I’m proud of all the officers,” Little said. “They only get around eight weekends off a year on their rotation on the road patrol. It’s a collaborative effort [between the city and the department]. We work well as a team and we’re very appreciative of everyone in the city — especially the residents who back us.”
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