Now What?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Now What?

Following a six-month long investigation into unspecified activities within the Westhampton Beach Police Department, the Suffolk County Internal Affairs report was received by Chief Ray Dean, who initiated the action, and turned over to Mayor Conrad Teller on October 22nd.

By week's end, two members of the force had been suspended, with pay, and the questions now start with, what next?

The story, such as it is, was broken on page 1 of this week's Southampton Press Western Edition, and was, of necessity because it involves personnel issues, short on solid information.

An item of note from reporter Hallie D. Martin's report:

"When reached this week, Mr. Tucker said he optioned not to review the report because doing so could pose a potential conflict if he was ever called to be on a hearing board down the road."

Right! This from the Trustee who went public with the news that there even was an investi­gation in place while introducing a resolution that the Trustees be given a copy of the report.

(Unaddressed by Mr. Tucker is why they would need to do that if, as he insists, the Trustees initiated the investigation.)

While no one locally would comment, it was learned that the matter has been referred to Village Labor Counsel Richard Zuckerman to review the municipality's options.

Contacted earlier today, Mr. Zuckerman was willing to speak in generalities about the pro­cess, and referred OtBB to New York State Village Law §8-804: Discipline and charges to better understand the framework under which the Village may proceed.

That section provides that:

"The board of trustees or municipal board shall have power and is authorized to adopt and make rules and regulations for the examination, hearing, investigation and determination of charges, made or pre­ferred against any member or members of such police force or department."

Okay, that's if the Village Trustees continue trying to control... for reasons best known to themselves... this matter, they decide to preside over a hearing, either en banc or Mr. Tucker in his role as "Police Commissioner."

Additionally, §8-804 states:

"...no member or members of such police force or department shall be fined, repri­manded, suspended, removed or dismissed until written charges shall have been ex­amined, heard and investigated in such manner or procedure, practice, examination and investigation as the board may by rules and regulations from time to time prescribe."

The only time in memory anything like this occurred in the Village was 12 years ago in the Verbeeck case, and in that instance an inde­pendent hearing officer was appointed, and his determination was binding, rather than a recommendation to the Village Board.

So the questions before the Trustees now, is how will they proceed?

Mr. Tucker, along with Joan Levan and deposed Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler may have left themselves in a bind with their ill-disguised attempts to maintain control of this process.

The findings of the six-month investigation were reviewed and signed off on by five levels within the Suffolk County Police Department, ranging from a Sergeant Investigator up to the Deputy Commissioner of Internal Affairs.

In short, whatever was found was substantive and substantial enough to warrant immediate suspensions.

At this point if there is any attempt by anyone on the Village Board to "quash" the process, Chris McPartland of the District Attorney's Cor­ruption Unit is only a 'phone call away.

The next step, and a good indication of how the Trustees will proceed, will be when they hear back from Labor Counsel Zuckerman.

If they are on the up-and-up, the "with-pay" suspensions should be converted to "without-pay" and a hearing before an independent en­tity will be scheduled.

OtBB will be closely monitoring this matter.

Comments

1. Matlynn Carville said...

"When reached this week, Mr. Tucker said he optioned not to review the report because doing so could pose a potential conflict if he was ever called to be on a hearing board down the road."
SAY WHAT? I thought he said he and the others ORDERED it.

Pshaw. I'll bet he read it and realized there was a problem.

The hypocrisy. The lies. I can't WAIT to see what this mess is all about. One thing seems reasonably certain. I'll bet Police Chief Dean is shown to have comported himself honestly, legally, and by the book throughout this process.

I think Mr. Tucker needs to look elsewhere for an occupation. He just lost all credibility with THIS voter. And for anyone who forgets, I will remind them, come election time. If he needs a raise, let him run for school superintendent. The pay is SPECTACULAR; and the chances of someone drawing a firearm on you relatively low.
Since it is a personnel matter, I don't know how much of this will ever come out. More than a dozen years later, all that anyone knows about the Verbeeck case is that he violated a direct order from his Chief.
Dean

2. Angel Face 13 said...

VERBEECK... and someone who no longer is in the police department broke into Verbeeck's police locker, umh?

Once again you have me at a disadvantage. I have no idea of what you're talking about.
– Dean

3. The Quiogue Kid said...

Life was so much easier when Village Police Officers like Bo would pull you over, with or without cause, intimidate you, ask where you lived and who your parents were, and sent you on your way.

Yeah, but in my day it was Larry Hawes or Buddy Spaulding... who I got even with my marrying my sister off to!
Dean

4. Here's a 20 for your troubles said...

Tucker, along with Kametler and Levan, scream from the top of Village hall about how they initiated this investigation. Then along with Kametler and Levan again demand a copy of this report, that Tucker and Levan now don't want to read so he can be on a Hearing Board. Then tries to take Conrad out of all labor negotiations.

To me this looks a bit deeper then two suspended cops.

Keep chugging along Ray, the dirty water always settles to the bottom.

It is much deeper than two suspended cops... the Terrible Troika have dug themselves a hole.
Dean

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