Sag Harbor Police See Spike In Calls But Drop In Arrests; Ride-Sharing Cuts DWI Arrests Chief Says


Lost in the summaries of reports that were reviewed in quick order by the Sag Harbor Village Board earlier this month was one from Police Chief Austin J. McGuire that included a summary of the village police force’s activities for 2019.

Village Police responded to a whopping 7,552 calls for service last year, up 47.2 percent from 2018, when there were only 5,129 calls.

In the meantime, total arrests declined by 31.6 percent, from 282 to 193, and DWI arrests were down by 36.7 percent, from 30 to 19.

This week, Chief McGuire said the up-tick in calls and decline in arrests doesn’t mean the village is seeing a rise in lawlessness. Instead, he said, people are just calling the police more often.

“It seems when somebody can’t figure something out, they call us,” he said.

So, along with complaints about suspicious vehicles parked on side streets, raccoons rummaging in garbage cans, or repeated spam phone calls, police get calls like the one that came in last weekend from a woman whose Tesla vehicle’s battery was dangerously close to being completely drained. She called police because another car had been hooked up to the Tesla charging station at Baron’s Cove for more than 12 hours, and she wanted it moved so she could charge her car, he said.

“It’s not like we’re dealing with bank robberies and murders,” the chief said this week. “But we have isolated incidents here and there,” mostly routine calls that need to be addressed such as burglar or fire alarms, minor car accidents, and ambulance calls.

Although arrests have declined, the number of parking tickets written has soared by nearly 40 percent, with 5,178 tickets being issued last year. “The secret to that is, we got more automated scanners,” he said, adding those tickets brought in about $400,000 in revenue to the village last year.

One decline that nobody will complain about is the decline in the number of arrests for DWI. The chief said ride-hailing services have helped greatly. “The ability to take out your phone, hit a couple of buttons and get a ride in literally minutes” has helped reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roads, he said.