When the Rockland County Legislature votes Wednesday night on Memorandums of Understanding with numerous municipalities, it will be a major step toward formation of the Regional Investigative Resource Center.
District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said the center would include police officers from the Towns of Clarkstown, Haverstraw and Ramapo and Village of Suffern. He said Orangetown might participate as well. Zugibe said the towns and village would assign officers to the unit without reimbursement from the county.
“In exchange we will create a policy board and they will have a seat on that board,” said Zugibe on Tuesday.
In addition to having a voice in setting policy for the unit, Zugibe said the municipalities will also get a percentage of whatever forfeiture funds are collected.
“We’re really getting a high level of cooperation from the municipalities now,” he said.
That is a significant difference from less than a year ago when town officials threatened to pull police officers from the Drug Task Force and Intelligence Center because the county did not have the funds to continue paying their salaries due to its budget deficit. The legislature wound up funding the Drug Task Force through the end of the year.
Zugibe said the new unit is a response to the funding issues. It came about after he met directly with town supervisors and village mayors.
The unit will encompass the Drug Task Force, Investigative Technology Unit and organized crime investigation and should have at least five officers. Legislators Zugibe said the Sheriff’s Department is working on the Intelligence Unit.
Once the memorandums are approved, Zugibe expects to ask the supervisors and mayors to sign them. He plans to meet with Orangetown and Stony Point officials to discuss their joining the unit. Federal and state agencies have already committed to support the unit.
“I want it to start immediately,” he said. “We’re trying to put this structure in place immediately.”