Cortland Common Council on Tuesday (September 17) night voted to end the City Police Department’s participation in a federal drug task force run by the DEA.
The city’s been a part of the group since October 2016, when it was personally invited by the agency to join.
Police Chief Frank Catalano warned Council that membership was by invite only, and that Tuesday night’s decision makes it difficult for the city to be invited back if it wishes to do so in the future.
In addition to surveilling general drug activity across Central New York, the federal drug task force focused particularly on bulk distributors of illicit substances.
Catalano said the department’s membership allowed him to assign one of his full-time officers to focus exclusively on the city’s largest external sources of illicit drugs: Places like Syracuse, Binghamton and others.
The original resolution was to renew membership on the task force, which was shot down by a 5-1 “nay” tally, with two alderpersons absent.
Those who voted to pull out of the task force said their intentions were to better utilize the city’s officers.
Both Catalano and Lt. Michael Strangeway, also present Tuesday night, said they were surprised and disappointed by the vote.
Stay tuned on this developing story.