Sands Point police rank high in pay

Sands Point police rank high in pay

Village of Sands Point police officers last year were the fourth highest paid officers of any village in the state, according to a report released by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

According to the report, a total of 20 Sands Point police officers made an average of $166,850 as of August 2016.

Empire Center, the report said, “uses pay data reported to New York State and Local Retirement System.” 

“The figures used to compute the averages include regular pay, overtime and pay for unused sick and vacation time,” a description of the report said. “However, the figures do not include pension contributions, health insurance and other fringe benefits, elements of total compensation that can add 35 percent or more to personnel costs.”

The department has six higher-ranking officers that include the chief, lieutenant and four sergeants. 

During the 2015-16 fiscal year, the department’s top officer, Chief Richard Lertora, earned $246,043, and Sgt. James Polla made $234,651.

Lt. Thomas Ruehle earned $227,462, Sgt. Donald Tag earned $205,013 and Sgt. Charles Byrd earned $202,226. 

Sgt. Christina Howes earned $171,274, Officer Brian Meadows earned $199,462, Officer James Schenker earned $196,215, Officer Erich Schindlar earned $188,907, Officer Casey Wall earned $175,974 and Daniel Zith earned $174,804.

Officers Steven J. Cacellarich, John R. Nickdow and Michael R. Borowski earned $166,400, $164,355 and $163,988, respectively.

Officer Joseph Spinosa earned $157,230, Officer Michael N. Bellissimo earned $136,880 and Officer Richard J. Iaconetti earned $132,445.

Three officers earned under $100,000: Daniel R. Buettner earned $81,605, Joseph Lo Giudice earned $64,845 and Ryan F. Grassini earned $47,223.

The department protects 875 homes and approximately 4,000 people.

Lertora said that an officer’s pay is based on seniority, and that salaries rise when officers put in more years and when they’re given new contracts.

“We’re a village police department,” Lertora said, “and that means we have different priorities. We will go the extra mile to have a relationship with our residents, and that’s something larger departments have trouble doing.”

Mayor Edward Adler said the village’s police department is high on the list because there are many senior officers.

“Right now we have quite a number of senior police officers,” Adler said. “And that is why the average is high. As the officer’s seniority increases, so does his or her pay.”

Adler said three of four senior officers told the village they plan to retire in the next few years, which will lower the pay average when the department hires younger officers.

The department answers 10 to 25 calls every day, Lertora said, and it can be anything from a crime to an elderly person needing help opening a garage door.

In 2016 so far, there have been 33 reports of  crimes, Lertora said.

“What we’re doing seems to be working, because we’re always very low on crime statistics, which is a plus for us and the village,” Lertora said.

Adler said the benefit of having a police department is that the village doesn’t have to rely on the town or county police to respond to a call. 

The department’s jurisdiction within Sands Point includes Guggenheim Elementary School, the Community Synagogue, the Port Washington United Methodist Church, the Sands Point Preserve and the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults.

Sands Point is one of five villages in Port Washington and the only village that staffs its own police department; Port Washington has a police department, too.

Kings Point police officers earn the highest wages for villages in the state at $222,394.

The Empire Center report also listed Sands Point general employees as the highest paid village employees in the state.

According to the report, the village employs 12 people for an average of $93,652.

Brian Gunderson, the superintendent of water and public works, earns $164,896, the highest salary.

By Stephen Romano

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