Some of the best things are often hidden in the Register-Star. A case in point is a recent post on Francesca Olsen's blog, which shares an old Register-Star article from October 1998 entitled "Does Hudson need more cops on the beat?" [beginning; continuation]. The answer to the question posed by the title, from the merchants interviewed for the article, was a resounding yes.
The response from Glenn Martin, who was then chief of police, to the call for more police on the street was sympathetic. He agreed that Hudson needed community policing, foot patrols, and a greater police presence in problem areas, but what could he do? According to Martin, the police department in 1998 was understaffed and underfunded. The article reported that, in 1998, there were 16 officers in the Hudson Police Department and the City spent about $34,000 on each officer, in salary and benefits. Martin complained that the HPD was losing officers to the sheriff's department and the state police, which offered higher pay. In 1998, the amount budgeted for the police department was $1,255,747.*
Fourteen years later, people are still calling for community policing, foot patrols, and a greater police presence in problem areas, but we don't seem to be any more successful at getting these things, even though the number of police officers has increased 62 percent (from 16 to 26), the amount of money budgeted for the police department has increased nearly 110 percent (from $1,255,747 to $2,625,832), the average compensation, in salary and benefits, is more than twice what Martin said it was in 1998 ($34,000 in 1998, $78,275 in 2011**), and the Hudson Police Department is now considered "one of the plum law enforcement jobs in the county."
The reasons given for why community policing, foot patrols, and a greater police presence in problem areas were not possible in 1998 don't apply in 2012. So why are these goals still so difficult to achieve?
* In 1998, Hudson switched from using a May through April fiscal year in its accounting to using the calendar year. The budget consulted was for eight months, from May through December 1998. The amount budgeted for the police department in this eight month period was $837,165, which worked out to $1,255,747 for twelve months.
** The information about HPD salaries is from SeeThroughNY.