The Practical Impact...

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Practical Impact...

...of the Village Trustees' decision to give the suspended cops "a pass" on their criminal be­havior, is substantial.

Aside from the demoralizing effect it has on the honest members of the force, it clouds the entire Westhampton Beach Police Department in far-reaching ways.

The Trustees claim that a hearing on the nine (8+1) charges preferred against the two cops following the Suffolk County Police Internal Affairs investigation, would be too expensive an undertaking for the Village.

What is that expense weighted against the ex­pense to the Village of having the two officers on limited duty in which neither will have any contact with the public?

Because based on the SCPD IA report, how can Officers Michael Bruetsch and Joseph Pesapane ever be put on the street again?

If either issue so much as even a traffic ticket, they will have to swear that the basis for that citation is valid, and perhaps even testify if the ticket is contested. That SCPD IA report could be used to impeach their credibility.

(While that report may not be subject to disclosure by the Village since it involves personnel matters, since it was leaked, The Press could be subject to a sub­poena. Any attorney worth his bar ad­mission would subpoena it in a trial, putting either officer's veracity at risk.)

While their credentials as "working cops" has been forever compromised, the only duty left to them within the Village department would be "desk duty," not a realistic option within such a small municipality.

Or the Village could dump their two senior Dispatchers, Charlie Benkov and Kathy Barosa, and replace them with Bruetsch and Pesapane, but that would incur a greater expense since the two Dispatchers presently cost the taxpay­ers $150k in salary, and the two cops currently in excess of $204k in just salary.

It's hard to buy into the Trustees' rationale that the disciplinary hearing would cost the Village "too much money," as a cost analysis of the salary and benefits Bruetsch and Pesapane are to be paid is greater than that of a hearing.

Especially galling is Trustee Jim Kametler's as­sertion, as reported in The Press:

"Mr. Kametler said that as a former West­hamp­ton Beach police officer, he has sat through disciplinary hearings before, when Officer Thomas G. Verbeeck was put on the stand in the mid-1990s, and they could prove to be costly"

The deposed Deputy Mayor never "sat through disciplinary hearings" in the Verbeeck case, he testified, and it was his "less than credible" testimony which ultimately proved to be costly to the Village!

And then there's the "ripple effect."

Since the investigated officers were found to have lied by the SCPD IA reports, what impact will this have on criminal cases involving other officers. Can this report be used to attack their credibility as well, since their PBA supported Bruetsch and Pesapane to the tune of $10,0001 for legal representation?

(This was authorized for former Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney William Keahon's services2 had there been a disciplinary hearing.

Unknown is why the PBA went to Mr. Keahon since they already pay their regular attorney, Allen Kranz, $14,000 to represent them.)

The Trustees, in response to a direct question, stated that they had received legal advice on this matter but were cautioned by Village Attorney Hermon Bishop to not discuss what advice they received, and whether that advice addressed the credibility issue of the two of­ficers and possibly the entire department?

This would be an important consideration since the SCPD IA report which questions the cred­ibility of the two officers, may also call into doubt the credibility of the whole department.

This in turn gives rise to the specter of increas­ed criminal activity within the Village since those so disposed would be emboldened by the knowledge that if they are ever caught3, they stand a good chance of beating the rap in court given the local police's tawdry record re­garding the truth.

These are some of the aspects of the Trustees' quite openly putting the fix in on police disci­plinary matters, and has heightened the call to disband the Village Police Department.

As it stands, what good is it?

  1. Approximately 20% of the PBA's treasury.
  2. Yes, that William Keahon who is also representing lame-duck Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot in her oft-delayed DWI trial.
  3. The Village's two detectives have done little to justify their positions let alone their $260,000 salary.


1. Surf's Up! said...

Speaking of "credibility," the Village Trustees have NONE - time to clean house in a big way.

2. HighHatSize said...

"Police want to hire Gurkhas as crime fighters" – The Guardian, UK.

I humbly propose the above solution, vouched for by Scotland Yard, as the cure for our P.D. ills, both in Westhampton Beach and in Southampton Town.

We could field the same number of officers for one fifth the cost, or double the number of officers and still save 60% of the current budgets.

This deal is too good to pass up.

Gurkhas! Brilliant! And they already come with thw qualities of courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness and honesty, most of which have been short supply. I like it!

3. Laughing said...

Two detectives at $260,000. There can't be that much crime in Westhampton Beach, and according to 27East comments the Post Stop robbery was never solved. Dean, maybe you could also fill me in on why the murder/suicide was handled by Suffolk Police. Did the Westhampton Beach detectives need more money to un-solve that one?

I also learned from 27East that if you call 911 it goes to Southampton Town police and then they call Westhampton Beach. It sounds like a long delay for an emergency.

Seems like a big waste to me. Two detectives for over a quarter million a year. Two worthless cops for over two hundred thousand and two complaining dispatchers for another hundred and sixty thousand. I bet with health insurance your up to almost $700,000. A year just on those six right there. Maybe Jimmy K. and his follies have a better calculator then I do, 'cause I sure don't see anything being cheaper here.

First, I would caution you against relying on pseudonymous Commenters on 27East for anything reliable.

#2, what "murder/suicide?"

As for the matter of the dispatching system, I cannot speak to how the Village/Town mechanism functions, but it's discouraging that the only one of the three Village Police Dispatchers who acts professionally and discharges his duties is a handicapped fellow who costs the municipality less than half of what either the other two are paid.
– Dean

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