BATH | Hundreds of residents gathered at Monday's Village Board meeting were stunned when longtime Bath Police Chief David Rouse announced he will retire Oct. 26.
BATH | Hundreds of residents gathered at Monday’s Village Board meeting were stunned when longtime Bath Police Chief David Rouse announced he will retire Oct. 26.
Rouse’s announcement came before the board opened up discussion of a controversial proposal that would cut the village’s 10-member police force.
As as residents applauded in a show of support for their chief, Rouse said he loved his job and the Village of Bath. He didn’t specify why he was retiring after 18 years as chief.
Also leaving the force is Sgt. Anthony Sanford, who announced his resignation Monday night to take a position with the Corning Police Department.
Approximately 200 residents, area police agencies and local officials had filled the Bath Volunteer Fire Department to discuss the proposal to cut two policemen.
The police department currently has 10 full-time police officers: the chief, an investigator, four sergeants and four officers. The department also has two full-time dispatchers.
The meeting, which began at 5:30 p.m., was still underway at presstime, with public comment period not beginning until nearly 8 p.m.
Prior to the meeting, Sgt. Colin Taft, president of the Bath Police Benevolent Association, the department’s union, said the proposed cuts would have a negative effect on village safety.
“Whoever votes for something like this is putting a price on residents’ safety,” Taft said. “One of the most important things in a community is protecting residents’ safety. Without that you have nothing. These cuts would send the wrong message.”
Village officials say the cuts are necessary to curb rising taxes.
Property taxes in the village have increased 29 percent in the past five years, despite pulling roughly $500,000 from the fund balance over that span, Bath Mayor Bill von Hagn said. The board has trimmed spending in the past few years and there aren't many place left to cut, he said.
“The biggest asset Bath has is its people,” von Hagn said.