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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Town Upset With Police Trip to Hooters

DEERPARK, N.Y. - A trip to Hooters by a group of off-duty police officers has some leaders of an Orange County community upset because their town was left without local police coverage for the night.

Several off-duty officers, other law enforcement officials and residents went to the restaurant and sports bar 35 miles away in Franklin, N.J., on Thursday, town of Deerpark officials said.

None of the town's 18 officers were on duty that night. Two officers were originally scheduled for the shift, but one was suspended on an unrelated matter and the other was excused from duty because he had asked not to be scheduled alone for evening shifts.

"Where we went had nothing to do with the issue at hand. We have numerous scheduling issues," Police Chief Bill Werner said of the excursion. "I have a predominantly part-time department and we've had at least five open shifts this month. We don't cover 24-7 and we try to cover at least 16 hours a day but we can only do so much."

State police handle overnight coverage beginning at midnight in the town about 56 miles northwest of New York City.

Town Supervisor Mark House told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown that although he doesn't agree with the restaurant choice, the real issue was the lack of police coverage. He said that what the officers did on their own time doesn't look good because Deerpark was left without its police. The town board is investigating the issue.

The trip to Hooters -- known for its scantily clad waitresses -- was arranged by someone outside the department, according to Werner.

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