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Silver Creek police chief resigns; county assumes patrols

SILVER CREEK – Police Chief Timothy Roche has submitted his resignation for retirement, effective June 14, ending a 32-year career in law enforcement, and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office began patrolling the village Saturday.

Mayor Nick Piccolo read the chief’s letter of resignation at Monday’s meeting of the Village Board.

Sheriff’s deputies patrolling the village currently are working under an oral agreement between the mayor and Sheriff Joseph Gerace.

Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, had questions for the mayor. He asked whether a contract, if approved, would be retroactive to June 1. The mayor said it was his intention to sign it effective to the Saturday start-up.

Borrello said the contract needs to go before the Public Safety and Finance Committees and that it requires approval from the county legislature.

Village Attorney Dan Gard said he was charged with working with the sheriff on the agreement.

Gard, a former police officer, said he had public safety and the same level of service in mind when he talked to the sheriff. He said the contract has more details than other contracts for coverage that he is aware of.

Gard also said the village did not intend to hold a referendum on disbanding the police department. He said the sheriff’s contract could be temporary, if village leaders do not believe the coverage is acceptable.

Piccolo gave some background on the issues that led to the sheriff’s patrols. He said the full-time officers had been leaving the department over the past year and part-time officers were obligated to other jobs, also in law enforcement, in other communities.

Nathan Narraway, a full-time officer with 10 months on the job, was given a letter notifying him that he would be laid off effective Friday. Narraway said he was very disappointed with the communication. A village resident, he was still on probation in the department.

Piccolo praised the officers and Roche. He said he was surprised that they were able to keep the department running as long as they had with limited manpower.

Several residents at the meeting supported retaining a local police department. They expressed concerns about coverage, and they were told that a patrol car would be designated to respond to calls in the village.