An anniversary

Friday, February 08, 2008

An anniversary

Jim Kametler

There are few living things thought to be slower in the world than Westhampton Beach Deputy Mayor and former Police Officer James Kametler, and it was always assumed that the species of omnivorous marsupial known as the opossum (Didelphis virginiana), was one of them.

Ordinary ol' opossum on a deck

In the first recorded head-to-head confronta­tion, however, no de­fin­itive winner was able to be determined.

As documented by the officer who responded to the "Shots Fired" complaint one year ago, then-Lieutenant Trevor Gonce, in the official Westhampton Beach Police De­part­ment Field Report #07-0285, it occurred at "1830 hours 02/08/2007," and when it finally came to the public's atten­tion at the Trustees' Work Session of May 23rd, it caused a red-faced "No comment!" by the Deputy Mayor, headlines in The Southampton Press the following week, and a wide range of comments by various officials and members of the public.

When Trustee Kametler finally managed to pull together a statement, it was something to the effect that his neighbor had complained to him that a large, scary and possibly rabid opossum was trying to attack the neighbor's two young daughters, and he felt the need to protect his Oak Street neighborhood!

(Never mind that rabid opossums are rare, or that these types of animals average three-to-four pounds... barely heavier than the small dog which usually accompanies Olivia Casriel to Village meetings!)

Mayor Conrad Teller, who had served as former officer Kametler's Chief throughout much of the '90s, avoided commenting on the Deputy Mayor's actions by questioning the responding officer's manhood:

"If he hasn't got the cojones big enough to make the arrest, he shouldn't be a cop!"

(Gonce had decided against arresting Kametler at the scene of the shooting for fear of political retaliation by the Trustee. No matter... he was still busted in rank at the July Work Session.)

Another who spoke to the issue was Lesley Wieland, a woman "bussed" into the June Trustee's meeting from Remsenburg by Kametler-supporter Angelo de la Fuente to speak with considerable passion in defense of the Deputy Mayor:

"Thank you for acting like a real man, Jim, and doing what needed to be done. I wouldn't want to wait for the police or animal control to come if I had a possum that was foaming at the mouth! Why is this even being discussed? Is this what you people do in Westhampton{sic}?"

The common local 'possum

The fact that it had never been established that the opossum was rabid let along foaming at the mouth, didn't deter the widow Wieland from her shrill and extended diatribe, one which made as much sense as if someone had come in and started blubbering that "Jimmy murdered Pogo!"

Actually, in the final analysis, despite Kamet­ler's dubious assertion "I am a marks­man," it took him five shots from a medium-caliber (a garden variety .22 would have done a better job under safer conditions) revolver to simply wound the hapless animal who subsequently limped away and expired, likely more out of shame than loss of blood.

(For a fuller narrative, see Lieu­tenant Gonce's Supplementary Report filed the following day.)

And for any who would be concerned about how to deal with a similar situation involving a 'possum, here's some suggested reading:

The Deputy Mayor got a pass from the Suffolk County District Attorney's office on his Oak Street shooting spree, but there are still questions arising from that February 8, 2007 incident... starting with, "Which was worse, Trustee Kametler's judgement or his marks­manship skills?"

At the end of the day, while the question of who's slower, Jim Kametler or an opossum, is still an open one, whoever would nickname the Deputy Mayor "Swifty" was probably the same one who started calling Ken LeMin "Tiny."

Comments

1. Frank Wheeler said...

Now you know why this guy was called "Cementhead" when he was a cop! You need to get the low-down on why he was tossed off the force.

2. Clamqueen said...

Thanks for the laughs. But it's really not very funny that someone who should know better fired a gun in a residential neighborhood.

3. Tony Joe Berk said...

Clamqueen, perhaps he thinks he's above the LAW.

4. Clamqueen said...

Well that would be a really "dumb-ass" way to think. But it's probably the case.

5. Matlynn Carville said...

I can't help but reflect at times if Connie is unable to perform his duties, this guy is the second in charge. Hey, why DID he get thrown off the force? Good question.

6. Fed Up said...

I guess his fear of being demoted came true for Lt. Gonce. Oh wait, it was because of $9,000 Dollars. That's funny, I wonder where that $9,000 dollars went. Perhaps it went to promotions in the highway department. NO, they wouldnt do that would they? I wonder why they hired a part-time dispatcher, which they don't need, or how about a new work schedule for the full time dispatchers that includes working LESS days. They wouldn't do that either would they? Not after they did away with the Lt. Gonce's position to save $9,000 dollars.
"The Truth shall set you free."

Mebbe, mebbe not… we shall see.
It wasn't $9k, it was $8300… but since we're talkin' dollars and not pennies, perhaps we should "quibble" about it.
And yes, Mayor Teller apparently has taken money from the Police Department budget to fund some raises in the Highway Department.
I think the part-time dispatcher is a terrific idea… and am now of the opinion that the two current full-timers should be unfunded, the expression of which opinion will doubtless incite a reign of vitriol from that quarter. The simple fact is that one doesn't interact with the public at all well, and the other doesn't do the job. It's the modern equivilent of "feather-bedding." The critical part of the job can certainly be handled by the part-timer who's in there now, and performed both well and at considerable savings to the Village.
Dean

7. Tony Joe Berk said...

Why are we looking for reasons from the unreasonable? The demotion obviously was a case of Vindictiveness from the Vindictive!

8. Fed Up said...

Dean you are correct and I do not wish to quibble with you over pennies. I will tell you that Connie and his crew must go. Was Jimmy forced out of the Police Department? Not sure. But I do know that he was running around when Ray Dean made Chief saying that he was the next Detective. Then when Ray found out what a mess he was, he knew he couldn't make Jim a Detective. Since that day Jimmy has been after Ray Dean. Even if that means teaming up with Connie and trying to take Ray Dean out at the expense of anyone, even Trevor Gonce. This group doesn't play fair and will hurt anyone to get to Ray Dean -- who by the way, has done a great job with no help from the Village board.

9. Shed Some Light said...

He wasn't thrown off the force, he was forced to retire for illegally using police investigative equipment to spy on his ex-wife. It's all there in black and white in Village Hall in a letter from the State. The irony is that it was the current Chief who saved Rootin Tootin Kametler's butt and retirement fund. Let's see "Can't Do it Connie" get him out of this one in this election. Wait, he'll just say "We're not gonna talk about that anymore." Now that's open government!

10. Specialist said...

Here is something to look at if you are up for it. Both current dispatchers were and are loyal to the "great Connie Teller." So I wonder what you would find if you compared their salaries to the salaries of other Dispatchers in the area. Then compare the number of days worked. Then compare the work they do. Then look at the "new Deal" they received from Connie, Jimmy and Toni. I don't include Joan and Hank because I don't think they see the full picture. Anytime I see these public servants they are reading a paper. Aren't they a duplication of services. Seems to me that if they are looking to save money shouldn't they start with non-essential personnel and not a high level police administration position. The Southampton Town Police Department already dispatches for the Westhampton Beach Police when these two slackers aren't working. Keep the part-timer to do the work as needed.

You're right, they absolutely are a duplication of services. It wouldn't be so bad if they actually performed well in their duties, but one is simply an unpleasant person to deal with… I used to think it was me, but the feedback over the past two years is that the operator simply isn't a "people person." Police Department Liaison Trustee Toni Jo Birk told me quite directly last May that she felt residents wanted the Police Station lobby to be staffed, and not have to deal with the red phone… it now seems that most of those who go into the lobby would rather the 'phone to Southampton Town than than an unpleasant dispatcher. The other one is just lazy, and any intrustion on his reading time is treated as an annoyance. I wasn't of this opinion when I ran for the Village Board last year, but I am now! The full time dispatchers need to go, both as a fiscal matter (close to to $200k annually!), as well as a practical one. The part-timer is a tremendous asset… he has people skills, he's a hard-worker, and he does the job so well that his physical limitations seem insignificant in relation to the attitudinal one of the full-timers!
Dean

11. Rootin' Tootin' Jimmy said...

Not to beat a dead horse, or opossum, too much longer, but it was said that at the VFW golf tourney this past Fall, Rootin' Tootin' Jimmy K. bought a tee sign that read: 'Jim Kametler-Possum Killer.' Forget the fact that Cement Head spelled it wrong, but he had the audacity to make fun of the situation publically. He's so arrogant. And this can be checked with a simple call to the Quogue VFW.

A great many people are mis­under­standing what actually occurred on Oak Street a year ago February 8th, and the import of it.
What the Deputy Mayor did was not only imbecilic… a common element of many of Jim Kametler's actions over the years… but the way he handled it was arguably worse, from his dis­semb­ling explanation to the responding officers of what he did, and why, but his direct refusal of a lawful order to surrender his handgun to a police officer, and his rant the following day that a field report was even filed because of his position as a retired member of the local police force, and his status as a Village Trustee and the Deputy Mayor.
Then there was his clumsy "No comment!" attempt at stone-walling at the Village Board Work Session last May! There are so many additional facets of this matter which haven't even been discussed… the circumstances of how he obtained his NYS handgun license being a significant one, and his silly assertion that he was using "dummy" rounds.
As for the golf tee sign, what else would you have him do? He is un­re­pentent about his poor judge­ment, and having been nolle prosequied by the DA's office, is probably feeling pretty sassy about it all. In discussion about this very aspect, I suggested that the best thing for him to do was get a sweatshirt printed up with "I murdered Pogo!"
Patently, some people are Kametler fans, and some aren't. What's ironic is that when he was Police Chief, our present Mayor was relentlessly critical of the man, yet they are staunch colleagues on the Village Board. Conversely, when our current Police Chief was a Sergeant on the Town and here in the Village, the two men were very friendly. It's not difficult to see the Village Board's not-so-hidden agenda at work here, and with the Deputy Mayor, it's a personal one.
Dean

12. Rootin Tootin Jimmy said...

But could someone dig up the truth about how this man retired and why so suddenly?

I think that's a matter of public record.
Dean

13. KMA said...

Did they give him a breathalyzer at the time of the shooting?

Good Gawd, no! And in fairness to the Deputy Mayor, I've never heard that this might be an issue. He's just not much of a thinker.
Dean

14. Dave Reilly said...

Dean, I really enjoy the way that you write, at least generally, but you do not know the facts of this event and I fear that your judgment is clearly clouded by your opinion of Jim. Being the only actual eyewitness to the event, I know what transpired, and why. But I sincerely doubt that any of his detractors would care to know the truth, as it would be disappointing to you and also inconvenient given your prior commentaries. The bottom line is that he helped a neighbor out who was in a jam and got hung for it, case closed. No one was ever in danger, except the possum and a rapidly deteriorating cedar deck. The real issue that need to be explored here is why it took the village PD nearly 15 minutes after the shots to respond when the locus of the event could be walked to from Village Hall in less than five. Another issue is why neither the village PD or the Chronicle (I still refuse to call it the SH Press) interviewed me, the only witness, prior to filing a police report or printing a story. I am listed in the phone book, or just knock on my door - before dinnertime please, I do have small children. It makes you wonder whether anyone cared what the truth was. Dean, I will still read your blog as I do find it unusually informative and mostly entertaining. I will just do so now with a slightly more jaundiced eye. Regards all and have a good holiday week. Remember the kiddies are off so please drive carefully.

Thanks for the comments, Dave… I'll address this on the blog proper.
Good to get something on this issue that's not written from a phony E-dress that starts out: "u r an [vulgar term anus]."
Dean

15. Tugboat Bertha said...

I am sorry that Jimmy is still getting such bad press. During his tenure as a police officer he came to our rescue several times and we are grateful.

16. Tony Joe Berk said...

Again 15 minutes response from Mr. Reilly. Talk about someone trying to stir the pot! I give credit to the two Officers for the valiant effort in tracking down the gun shots. After all, didn't the call originate from Sunset Avenue?

While "valiant" seems a little on the purple side, yes, the first report was taken from Sunset Avenue, the location to which both police officers initially responded.
Dean

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