CHERRY CREEK - It was just three weeks ago that the quiet village of Cherry Creek was rocked by a brazen assault.
On June 20, Kevin Pattyson allegedly entered a home on Southside Avenue while a woman was painting inside. He proceeded to push the woman to the ground and tackled her when she attempted to escape. Grabbing the woman by the hair, he hit her head on the concrete several times before he fled the scene.
Residents and officials in Cherry Creek immediately began looking into possible options to keep the peace in the small village. Bruce Fish, mayor of Cherry Creek, contacted Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace and set time aside at a town meeting to address the issues at hand.
Topics covered at the meeting included the possibility of contracting with the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office for enhanced patrolling, the costs associated with setting up a police department from scratch and the implementation of a neighborhood watch program. Other ideas that were introduced at the meeting included the placement of surveillance cameras around the village as well as a stricter enforcement of local codes and curfews.
"We patrol a lot of the 27 towns in Chautauqua County," said Gerace. "We do have municipal contracts in several areas in Chautauqua County where communities say 'we want more protection than we're getting with the state police and your zone patrols.'
"Hanover, for example, consolidated a full-time police agency in the 1980s into the Sheriff's Office and they contract with us to provide coverage for them 24/7. They pay us additional to have a car in their town all the time."
Several areas in Chautauqua County contract with the Sheriff's Office for enhanced patrolling, including Hanover, Ripley, Brocton, Bemus Point and the Sunset Bay area.
Cherry Creek had a contract with the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office in the late 1990s, and now that option is being explored again. Unlike Hanover, some communities such as Bemus Point contract with the Sheriff's Office on a seasonal basis, which is much more cost effective for those specific areas.
Cherry Creek officials talked to Gerace about the possibility and costs of incorporating their own police department According to the sheriff, it is an extremely costly endeavour to start up a police agency. Officers have to be certified through a municipal police training council; they have to be equipped, continually trained, and recertified every year.
"I think that from a business perspective, the best bet is to contract for an enhanced police contract where you can control how many hours a week," said Gerace. "You have flexibility, you don't have that overhead charge like you would with starting up your own department and you don't have the liability issue."
Other cost-saving measures included collaborating with neighboring towns and villages to contract with the Sheriff's Office. It would allow the patrolling officer more freedom to move within the area he or she is contracted to patrol, as well as giving the benefits of an increased police presence to a larger area, while still minimizing costs.
Gerace was also a proponent of utilizing a neighborhood watch program, regardless of the decision about increasing the police presence in the village. Residents reacted very positively to the idea of a similar program being implemented in Cherry Creek and were eager to set up a meeting to organize a neighborhood watch group. Officials and residents set a date for a meeting to organize a neighborhood watch program. The meeting is set to occur on Monday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. and will tentatively be held at the Cherry Creek Fire Hall. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office will be present at the meeting to provide a presentation on the implementation of a neighborhood watch program.
Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is asked to please contact their local law enforcement agency. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office can be contacted at 753-2131 and the New York State Police Station in Jamestown can be contacted at 665-3113. For emergencies, please call 911.
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