Monday, August 14, 2006

A Lesson in Killing Business: The Bolton Landing Police Department

It really began about two years ago. That was when the Bolton Police Department began its harassment of local businesses in Bolton Landing, on Lake George in theAdirondacks. It started with slow drive-bys of the local businesses, particularly the only two places left in town that attract locals – the Sagamore Pub and the Brass Ring. Cars leaving town after 11 pm were pulled over constantly. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough,Bolton police began stalking tourists and locals who were walking down the street minding their own business. They asked for IDs and if someone walking down the street was intoxicated, they were automatically arrested – even if they were minding their own business.

Last summer Bolton Police began parking directly in front of the Sagamore Pub and the Brass Ring and waiting for patrons to leave – if they drove they were followed and stopped; if they walked they were asked for ID. A police sting which sent two undercover police into both bars ended in the closing of the Brass Ring after a new bartender, just 21 years old herself, served two people who looked obviously over-age, but were undercover and trying to deceive the bartenders into serving them. The Sagamore Pub is now closed and the Brass Ring is under new ownership (among other issues these changes mean neither establishments have a presence on the web any more).

So the Bolton Police have decided to move on to parking in addition to their usual tactics . Last Sunday night, the most popular night for locals in town, Bolton Police issued tickets and warnings to every car parked in the public parking lot – the reason? No overnight parking. Cars have to be moved at 2 am, never mind the Brass Ring (now called the Lakeside Pub or some such thing) doesn’t close until 4 am. Lots of locals stood by and cursed while their cars were ticketed afraid to confront police or move their cars from a near-empty public parking lot for fear of police intimidation. Of course, anyone who works at The Sagamore Hotel will tell you that they never see the Bolton Police – you see, the super rich of Bolton are exempt from the pestering the locals and “regular” tourist face.

So it’s no surprise that the overzealous Bolton Police have all resigned this past week. The Glens Falls Post Star speculated on the reason:

Earlier this month, there was talk around town of changing the Bolton department’s duties, [Warren County Sherriff Larry]Clevelandsaid. Rather than focusing on making arrests and writing tickets, the officers were asked to make their presence known to business owners during the day and assist people crossing busy streets.

When they can no longer drive away business and hassle locals the Bolton Police resign – I, and a whole lot of residents and business owners in Bolton, say Good Riddance! Until the Bolton Police can perform their job more appropriately, they ought to stick to what they do best – giving directions and helping tourists cross the street (oh, and hunting aliens).

UPDATE 8/15/06: The ComPostStar is reporting more about why the officers resigned. Apparently they “notified the town they planned to resign Friday, three days after a Town Board meeting that focused on an effort to create a written policy outlining the duties of town police officers. Some Town Board members wanted the department — whose officers work a total of 1,200 hours a year, most of them in the summer — to perform more foot patrols, spend more time directing traffic and assisting pedestrians crossing the street, and issuing more warnings instead of citations.”

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.




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