ENDICOTT, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) Endicott Mayor Linda Jackson has stirred up a political fight by warning that the Sheriff’s Office wants to replace the Endicott Police Department in the village, an accusation the Sheriff vehemently denies.

Jackson bases her concerns on a series of arrests that the Sheriff’s Office conducted in the village back in August that were not coordinated with the EPD.

She accuses Sheriff Fred Akshar of trying to grow his agency and consolidate power by absorbing the village police.

Jackson, a Republican like Akshar, is running for re-election next month on a third party line after failing to qualify for the Republican primary.

She suggests that Akshar is backing Republican candidate and current trustee Nick Burlingame as part of a plan to take over law enforcement in the village.

“My opponent will have no choice but to follow what his party wants him to do. I know running into the Republican party when you disagree what happens. I’m just trying to make people understand what’s at stake and they can make their own mind up. I just don’t want to lose my police, they’re just too important to me.”

Burlingame says Jackson’s assertion is ridiculous.

First, he says no such conspiracy exists. And second, he’d have no interest in being mayor of a village without its own police force as they would be his best means for improving public safety for his constituents.

Burlingame says he doesn’t support consolidation or shared services as that would reduce the level of service to village residents.

“My priority is going to be to invest in the Endicott Police Department. Make sure we are fully staffed, we have the proper manpower, and maybe bring back our RIP Team so we can do targeted law enforcement within the village. I view the Sheriff’s Office as a resource for the Endicott Police Department. When we need extra help or assistance, they are a tool that we can always use.”

Sheriff Akshar pulled no punches in his response. He calls Jackson’s accusation a shameful political stunt aimed at rescuing a floundering campaign.

Akshar says he’s committed to protecting the public safety of all Broome County residents by following the data and focusing cooperatively with local agencies to address problem spots wherever they are in the county.

“Linda Jackson should pay attention to ensuring that people’s water is clean, that their trash is picked up. If she truly cared about public safety, she would recognize that the Chief of Police is working very hard on a daily basis to keep his residents safe. If she cared about public safety, she would afford the Chief of Police the opportunity to increase his staff so he had the men and women on the street that he so desperately needs.”

Endicott Police currently have 2 unfilled positions. Jackson says they’re having trouble finding new officers, but that all shifts are fully staffed, occasionally through overtime.