South Blooming Grove leaders consider creating public safety department amid alleged disagreement with police chief

Village leaders also weighed the idea of creating a separate police department during a recent board meeting, claiming the Blooming Grove Police Department is understaffed.

Blaise Gomez

Jun 25, 2024, 4:09 PM

Updated 20 days ago

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South Blooming Grove leaders consider creating public safety department amid alleged disagreement with police chief
The rapidly growing village of South Blooming is now considering creating its own public safety department amid an alleged disagreement with the Blooming Grove police chief.
The village made the announcement on Facebook last week and leaders say the new department would help police.
“This initiative aims to enhance the safety and well-being of village residents to assist the Blooming Grove Police department as needed,” the Village of South Blooming Grove’s Facebook post noted.
Village leaders also weighed the idea of creating a separate police department during a recent board meeting, claiming the Blooming Grove Police Department is understaffed.
Chief Kevin Wakeham said in a letter to the public that the department was not notified of the village’s plans and denied the department is understaffed, claiming recent disagreements about policing requests are being misinterpreted and are behind the proposed change.
“We have always maintained a professional relationship with the representatives of South Blooming Grove. Unfortunately, our professionalism was not reciprocated,“ said Wakeham.
Wakeham listed two recent incidents during which he disagreed with village leaders. On one occasion, he says village leaders asked for police or private civilians to provide long-term traffic control at the intersection of Route 208 and Mountain Road. He says leaders were told that neither solution was feasible and expressed resource and safety concerns. In another instance, Wakeham noted that he provided a “fair quote” to the private organizer of an annual event, which draws “thousands of people,” for 4 to 5 uniformed officers to provide traffic control that was declined for the use of private security, but required police presence anyway. Wakeham says the department previously provided overtime police services for private events for free, but that it is no longer feasible due to the increased number of private events in the village.
“This is now being interpreted as our police department being understaffed, unprepared and untrained. I couldn’t disagree more,” said Wakeham.
News 12 reached out to Village of South Blooming Grove Mayor George Kalaj for additional comment about the need for a village public safety department but did not receive a response.
The village wrote on its Facebook page that they’ve authorized a special counsel to research the idea and that residents can “stay tuned” for updates.


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