MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Earlier this month, the Carmel Police Department added a new officer to its ranks when it swore in James Zaccone.

Due to the ongoing conditions with COVID-19, town officials conducted a small swearing-in ceremony during the Town Board meeting last week, which was closed to the public. 

Zaccone was hired as a transfer with about four years of experience with the City of Newburgh Police Department, with a portion of that time assigned to the rank of detective. 

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“He has a lot of training,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt. “Specialized training—he has a lot of courses under his belt. We are getting a really experienced officer.”

Schmitt said that Zaccone will start with Carmel PD as a patrolman.

“We are excited to have James on board with the Town of Carmel Police Department, and he, as well, is excited to get to work serving Carmel’s residents,” Schmitt said.

This brings the number of Carmel PD staff to 34, back to the level it was at several years ago. In the wake of the recession more than 10 years ago, the town had seriously considered eliminating the police force and handing over law-enforcement duties to the Sheriff’s Department. It had even asked the county to do a feasibility study on the matter.

But after some public outcry, the town reconsidered and has since been rebuilding the staff.

“We support our police department and Chief [Michael] Cazzari,” Schmitt said. “We are always meeting with him about his staffing needs, and he wanted to increase staffing levels. He felt comfortable at 34. There was a period of time when multiple [officers] would be out with work-related injuries, and we wouldn’t replace them. But now we are. And we have a much younger department now. We’ve hired about 12 officers over the past three years. We have two more coming this June when they graduate [the police academy] and then will go through field training.”

Schmitt said he hopes the board never has to deal with staffing challenges like that again.

“You have to keep it strong and replace them when it’s needed,” he said. “You can’t allow the numbers to drop like they did years ago. We went through some difficult economic times. There are no talks of layoffs now. That is behind us."

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