The Riverhead Police Department’s central records office is reducing its hours of operation due to being short staffed and to ease crowding in the halls when justice court is in session.
The central records window will now be open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, according to a press release. Its usual hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. will remain the same on Thursdays and Fridays.
“We’re down a person and we are a little understaffed,” Captain Richard Smith said, referring to a recent retirement. “Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are justice court days and with the court people there it creates a bit of a traffic jam.”
The justice court, which handles more than 120 cases per day, is located in the same building as the police department. Justices Richard Ehlers and Allen Smith have been calling for a larger facilities for years.
The line to get into court on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings often stretches back to the central records window, which is where people can pick up documents like an accident report or traffic ticket.
Three full-time employees have worked in the central records office for many years. When one of them retired this year, the Town Board did not refill the position. It was one of several positions the Town Board left vacant following retirements as a way to cut expenses.
The two remaining central records employees will still be working weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but the window won’t be open to the public for the first two hours.
“This will give them a chance to catch up on their work,” he said, adding the schedule would return to its original form if the Town Board refills the position.
Supervisor Sean Walter said Wednesday funding for the position isn’t included in the budget.
“We’ve cut the size of government by 10 percent,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s been difficult for some departments.”
Mr. Walter said he discussed the reduction in window hours with the police department and still approves of it.
When asked for comment Wednesday, Councilman John Dunleavy said he was unaware of the schedule change.
He said the window should remain open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and believes the town should hire a part-time employee to help the department.
“We’re a municipality and we’re here to serve the public — and not to serve the public at our convenience,” Mr. Dunleavy said.