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Hastings Chief: Police Burdened by Calls From Graham School

Given the high volume of calls to Hastings' police, Hastings' Chief David Bloomer believes something needs to change.

In 2012 calls from the have accounted for 31 to 42 percent of monthly police activity in the village, said Hastings Police Chief David Bloomer.

"We've been working on this for over a year," Bloomer said. "My greatest fear is that one of our fire department members gets hurt rushing to an alarm pulled by a student at Graham."

A number of police chiefs in the area have come together to form a committee on how to deal with and reduce the amount of work generated from residential Special Act School districts within their jurisdictions.

"We've noticed that the volume of calls has increased greatly over the last few years," Bloomer said. 

Graham-Windham School President, Jess Dannhauser thinks there are many changes that can potentially alleviate the onus on the police department.

"We're working closely with law enforcement," Dannhauser said. "We consider this a partnership."

An example would be Graham not having to call every time a student leaves campus without permission. He also added that both he and Blomer agree that many other calls to police could have been handled internally. 

"Very rarely, when a student is not on campus, is he or she in Hastings or North of Hastings; they head towards the City."

However, according to State law, Graham's staff must report all missing students to their local police jurisdiction—Bloomer has a box of AWOL reports pouring over the edges...just for 2012. 

"We believe there are three different circumstances when students are missing," Dannhauser said. "The first is when he or she overstays a weekend pass. The second is running away to a trusted aunt or other family member we might not know about."

It's only the third circumstance which concerns Dannhauser and his colleagues.

"Some students, especially female students, are in danger by being on their own in New York City. There's a huge uptick in sex trafficking, and in these circumstances, we feel as if calling law enforcement is imperative."

Though he added that the first call is to precincts in New York City, whom he believes can be most helpful in locating the missing students. 

Hastings Trustee Nicola Armacost is concerned by the financial strain Graham-Windham puts on the village—through the fire department, ambulance corps. police department and court system. 

"Of increasing concern is that the types of children that are now being moved to facilities like the Graham School due to these shut downs are actually much more challenging to handle than the typical Graham School resident used to be," Armacost said. "There was a reason that these types of kids were being sent to more secure facilities, and arguably less secure facilities like the Graham School or Children's Village are not actually properly equipped to handle this new, much more challenging type of resident."

Dannhauser doesn't believe this has been a significant problem at his school.

"We haven't had a huge change in our population of residents," he said. "There has been an initiative to send children in the foster care system closer to home [usually New York City] than to schools up North."

But Dannhauser does not believe these shifts have made a large difference in the number of calls coming from his school.

"We actually have the fewest students who have been adjudicated through the court system to Graham," he said. "More of our residents come from the foster system than ever before."

However there are hypotheses, he said, that foster children and teens are more likely to overstay their passes and leave campus because there are less significant repercussions for breaking the rules. 

Starting in the fall, there will be no students at Graham who were sent there for committing minor crimes.

"There will be new facilities for juvenile delinquents," Dannhauser said. "We could have applied to continue serving as an alternative to detention center, though after much discussion, we decided not to do that."

Dannhauser and other members of the school's board are not sure how this major change will affect the school's culture or the number of calls to Hastings Police. 

"My feeling is that our villages just can't sustain the call volume as it is now; we have only two officers on the road at any given time," Bloomer said. "We have high hopes for our chiefs' committee being able to come together to find effective solutions."

Stay tuned for a story tomorrow on and its relationship with Dobbs Ferry Police—also a story on updates from the chiefs' committee as more information unfolds. 

Like Rivertowns Patch on facebook. 

StartWalkingThemBack June 26, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Cut back with all the parades/events and stop building parks -- show some real leadership and restructure village pensions, which are out of control!! Help chief Bloomer, who needs more police, he said as much on Memorial Day. This village had better start doing the work which needs to be on infrastructure. This Mayor and board seem far more interested in planning, creating committees and portraying village officials. Our downtown is fast becoming a ghost town, village taxes are driving any last vestiges of diversity (which made us unique) from the village entirely. I am tired of listening to empty words and denial. Get priorities in order. Fix our roads and put more police on our streets before someone gets hurt or worse.
GetOurMoneysWorth June 27, 2012 at 01:44 AM
With the Town Clerk making 170K, maybe she can serve as a one woman SWAT team at the Graham School.
Colin G. June 27, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Between Graham School, Children's Village and our home grown portapotti burners Hastings has turned into the wild west. Had I known I would have bought a house elsewhere.
change can be good June 27, 2012 at 02:04 AM
how did you not know? There is no perfect town. The problem is every 2 years we elect another plumber, pharmacist or construction worker to the board and they have NO idea how to run a town.
NextStopBP/HastingsBP/HastingsNext June 27, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Hastings should stop with all the diversity. Would it hurt them to put some entitled white collar folks on the board? Maybe a few Ivy league types and a trust fund baby or two for some real perspective. Let's start a committee to start a committee.
Colin G. June 27, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I believe the current hastings Mayor worked in finance in Poland. Making Polish loans? I can't see why that wouldn't prepare him to run our town.
NextStopBP/HastingsBP/HastingsNext June 27, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I agree. First of all Mayor Swiderski is a local boy, born and bred, from a blue collar family. He's about as down to earth and real as you can get. He's not about posturing and talking the talk to please a certain kind of person, he is all about diversity. And may I remind any naysayers, that 'you can't transmit something you haven't got.' Mayor Swiderski proves this on a constant basis. He's inherited a lot of problems and he needs our support.
Colin G. June 27, 2012 at 04:11 AM
And don't forget- He won by a landslide!
Colin G. June 27, 2012 at 04:44 AM
He's done the heavy lifting and turned the town around. Now everyone wants to be Mayor.
michelle June 27, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Thanks for the investigative article. I have long wondered what the strain was on the Rivertowns as a whole for all of these type of facilities. What do the towns get in return from the facilities for even being there? Are they considered tax-exempt so they dont have to pay anything but strain resources from residents? I look forward to the article on Children's Village and hopefully on St Christophers/Clark Academy. Just yesterday I encountered 2 male youths walking down Main Street in Hastings, smoking a joint as they walked down the sidewalk. I would also welcome an update on the Task-Force that is supposed to be helping to combat illegal drug use and underage drinking in the Rivertowns.
Bill Thompson June 27, 2012 at 05:27 PM
As often seems to happen on these boards, conversation is way off track, it is a miracle to me some of you are smart enough to figure out how to afford living in Hastings. This is about the great burden Graham's little criminals put on Chief Bloomer, his staff and our budgets. How about sending Graham (or CV) a bill for $5000 or some other suitable sum every time HPD needs to attend to matters involving their inmates, on or off campus? There is an opportunity here to turn this into a profit center! The financial pressure then being transferred back to the institutions causing these problems (where it belongs) would, I'd think, certainly motivate them in future to screen and manage better the (poor, disadvantaged, etc., etc.) hoodlums in their charges.
Thor June 27, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Bill, I don't think police departments can charge for answering calls in their jurisdiction, much less ask for 5,000 bucks, but I like your thinking. It's about time Hastings begin to think with some street sense and seize opportunities to raise revenue, as opposed to raising taxes. Hastings missed a great opportunity years ago with Andrus for a great revenue source and currently they are moving away from missing another opportunity to lower costs by ignoring plans to turn the quarry into a recycling center and instead create another park. Increasingly we are going to be looking to our Mayors to make tough decisions as the fiscal nose tightens, and not behave as people pleasers, interested more in acting as if nothing has changed. Chief Bloomer thinks something needs to change, I couldn't agree more. Something very much needs to change with the village government in Hastings. The current Mayor of Hastings is the very last person who should be in that chair as we head toward a very rocky future. His record as Mayor to date has made clear his character defects. Book smart, talks a good game, but his actions are entirely different issue, as his term in office thus far has made very clear. If the village does not restructure pensions, which is the very last thing a Mayor like Swiderski has the courage to address, the village will continue to force out anything resembling diversity, and leaving us in the horrible position we find ourselves.
Bill Thompson June 27, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Thor, very regrettably, you most probably are right, but over a third of police activity devoted to a single address in a small village....this is way more of a burden to Chief Bloomer and the HPD than a flurry of nuisance calls, it is wildly extraordinary. Perhaps the Village could recoup by just suing Graham and its Board of Directors ("men and women of unusual talent and standing", according to Graham's website) for, say, 40% of the past ten year's village policing budget, in my experience people of talent and standing pay attention when their pocketbooks are threatened. And if Village leadership is not so inclined, what's stopping a citizens' organization from pursuing such litigation on behalf of all over-burdened Hastings taxpayers? Certainly there are enough lawyers wandering around town, you can hardly take a drive anymore without getting several of them stuck to your windshield...
Thomas Cafferty June 28, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Bill, i agree, it's really hard to believe that it's that many calls. I agree something must be done. If nothing changes your idea to litigate sounds to me that it has a strong basis.
StupidHastingsResidents June 30, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Bill, your idea that one has to be "smart enough to be able to figure out how to afford to live in Hastings" is amusing. Probably the majority of current Hastings residents benefit either directly or secondarily from family wealth. Hastings should not be proud of it's lack of diversity, and your misread of the issue doesn't speak well for your intelligence.
Bill Thompson July 01, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Merely tried to rile a couple people for straying from the point, Stupid (and I hope your feelings won't be hurt if I address you by your first name?), and then you paddle up from your depths...at least you're self-proclaimed, so no use insulting you back, touchee, ya got me good! But the issue here was Graham originating over a third of calls to the local PD, Stupid, any thoughts on that one?
Annie Oakley July 01, 2012 at 08:28 PM
The task force was at Amjo's buying up the deli..CV and the Graham School need stationary security officers, preferable with tasers and OC spray..
Annie Oakley July 01, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Liberal guilt is a double standard. The progressives in Hastings move away from the big city to pay a fortune to live here, away from "diversity". There is not a magic gate at the entrance to Hastings that keeps a family from having an equal opportunity to move here and not everyone here is rich. Yes, there are a few annoying trust fund babies but look at the train platform every day and you will see the majority of people taking the train to work everyday.

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