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Ossining PBA Says Court Consolidation Is "Hasty"

OSSINING, N.Y. – With a consolidated Ossining village and Ossining town court expected to open in January 2012, members of the Ossining village police complained that the merger is being rushed without taking time to iron out details.

"We're not opposed to court consolidation, we just want to make sure it's done right, and not hasty," said Det. Donald Farrell, president of the Ossining Policemen's Benevolent Association.

One issue that Ossining PBA members complained about was that all prisoner transports to the consolidated court at 86-88 Spring St. were originally delegated to county police that currently serve the Town of Ossining.

After the PBA's complaints at a recent village Board of Trustees meeting, town and village officials agreed that village police would remain in charge of prisoner transports for the village.

"The issue with the village police has been resolved," said Ossining Town Supervisor Catherine Borgia. "The Village of Ossining is going to continue to do prisoner transport for the Village of Ossining, and they're going to have that be part of their police budget."

Farrell said that aside from prisoner transportation, there were also other details, such as taxpayer savings and hiring of personnel, to be worked out.

"90 percent of Briarcliff is within the Town of Ossining. They're not part of this court merger, but their taxes are going to increase to help fund the new court," Farrell pointed out.

Borgia said the public is always welcome to make comments on the merger, but legislatively, the merger is "pretty much a done deal."

"There are no more legislative actions to be taken. The next steps are part of the political process. There's going to be a third judge, so the political committees will have to nominate candidates who will be voted on in November for a four-year term," the town supervisor said.

The other two judges will be Nancy Koba and John Fried, the current elected justices for the Town of Ossining. The contract for the Village of Ossining's justice will be allowed to expire.

"It's going to be a better experience for residents, less confusing," Borgia said of the new court. "If you come in right now, there are two windows there for the Town of Ossining and the Village of Ossining. (In January,) it's going to be just Ossining. It's going to be a slightly easier experience for people to walk into the court room."

Borgia estimated that the court merger would save $200,000 in 2012.

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