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Nov 27, 2012 10:39 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pearce Is Named Southampton Town Chief Of Police

Nov 28, 2012 11:19 AM

The Southampton Town Board voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to appoint Southampton Town Police Captain Robert Pearce as the department’s new chief.

The promotion will take effect on Saturday, December 1, and Capt. Pearce will be officially sworn in to his new position on Thursday, December 6, in a ceremony at Town Hall.

Capt. Pearce, who will earn $166,669 a year as chief—just $8 more than his predecessor, William Wilson Jr.—has been serving as the department’s interim commanding officer since Chief Wilson submitted his resignation earlier this month.

The new chief will inherit a department that has been embroiled in turmoil for much of the 18-month tenure of his predecessor. The department’s dirty laundry has been repeatedly made public in recent months and includes Chief Wilson’s filing of dozens of disciplinary charges against one of his senior officers, the suspension of an officer accused of being addicted to prescription medications, and the launching of an investigation by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office for what investigators called years of “troubling” practices under past administrations that led to the release of two convicted felons from prison earlier this year.

The departing chief had butted heads repeatedly with Republican members of the Town Board over his requests for funding for technology upgrades at the police department’s headquarters in Hampton Bays, over climbing overtime salary costs, and over the suspension of Lieutenant James Kiernan, a Southampton Town Republican Committee member. Chief Wilson has alleged that the town’s GOP had made overtures to get him to quit the post as early as last spring.

Capt. Pearce said this week that he is confident the department will have smoother sailing in the near future. “The department is now moving forward with a seamless transition where we will, hopefully, be able to put these issues behind us, work together, and move into 2013 in a positive light,” he said.

Capt. Pearce has been on the town force for more than 30 years and had been considered by the Town Board for the chief’s position in 2011, after the retirement of former Chief James Overton and before Chief Wilson, who was chief of the Southampton Village Police Department at the time, was hired.

Capt. Pearce was promoted to captain from lieutenant by the Town Board in March. That promotion, however, also was caught up in the tumult and came with the support of only three of the five Town Board members and without the recommendation of Chief Wilson, who hinted at the time that the promotion was a political move by the Republican-Conservative majority on the board. Town Councilman James Malone is the only Conservative Party member on the board; Republican members are Chris Nuzzi and Christine Scalera.

Support for promoting Capt. Pearce, who led the town’s emergency response before, during and after Hurricane Sandy in Chief Wilson’s absence—he was on vacation the week the storm swept through the Northeast—was broader this time around, as all five members of the Town Board asked to co-sponsor the resolution appointing him as the new chief.

Kevin Gwinn, vice president of the Southampton Town Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, offered praise for Chief Wilson upon his departure. “We feel he was not given a chance,” he said on behalf of the union representing police officers. “Everything he requested or tried to do just seemed to be a uphill battle, and that’s a lot for one man to take on on his own, and that’s exactly what he did. He chose to do it by himself, as a true leader would do, and he did.

“I think he felt, by leaving, maybe we would get the support and resources we would need—and that’s all he ever asked of the Town Board,” he added. “We were proud to work for the guy.”

Staff writer Colleen Reynolds contributed to this story.

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Robert Pearce is exactly the right choice to lead the Southampton Town Police Department into the future. A professional in every sense of the word. Congatulations to the Town Board for correcting their prior choice.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Nov 27, 12 1:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Congradulation to Robert Pearce. He has served the residents of Southampton Town for 30 years, from patrol in Westhampton back in the 1980's. I enjoyed working with him back then. Good luch to you Bobbie.
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Nov 27, 12 4:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 27, 12 4:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 27, 12 4:54 PM

And let me guess, he's a solid Republican and part of the infamous Southampton Town "Hiring Hall", right - the Republican gravy train and control apparatus for all Town affairs from A to Z?
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Nov 27, 12 10:29 PM
Time to move on. Hopefully the issues plaguing that department can get resolved without all the acrimony.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Nov 27, 12 10:30 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 28, 12 9:34 AM
Why are mrobin's comments being deleted? Is it because he speaks the truth that they are putting in a puppet regime to do the Republican's bidding? That now the Republican Controlled Majority has put their inside spy, in as top dog even before Wilson's official retirement date? What happened to the 1st ammendment?
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Nov 28, 12 11:23 AM
Our policy for commenters does not allow the posting of unsubstantiated allegations.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Nov 28, 12 11:28 AM
Please tell me which of my comments were unsubstantiated... I spoke the truth about each thing. Do your homework and you'll find out all you need to know, the political games of the board and Pearce and Kiernan, plus the da's investigation. If you are speaking of the other lt I mentioned then I'll bring it up with the east Quogue school board instead
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 28, 12 12:24 PM

Give me a break, I don't know what's more disconcerning your censorship or your hypocracy. Your paper will post halve truths....Oh wait let me substaniant that; for example your reporting of the DA's office releasing "2" criminals, does not give you the right to delete a post without you personally fact checking the statement, if you so feel it is untrue. Your deletion of the post seems intended to discredit the poster, not only by the act but from your response. Not to mention, ...more
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Nov 28, 12 1:49 PM
Malone and Nuzzi must be very proud of themselves.They got a new puppet for Christmas. God forbid we join the 21 century in technology. This is a very sad day for our police department. Work with no officers and out of date equiptment. Hope I don't need emergency assistance anytime soon. Can't wait for the next election.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Nov 28, 12 12:25 PM
Unlike Wilson, who was the PBA candidate for chief, Pearce does not enjoy their support. That can only be good. It's hard to be an effective manager when your subordinates got you your job.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 28, 12 1:04 PM

Do you intentionally omit the fact that Pearce is/was the SOA President..or are you ignorant of that fact. You demonize the PBA, let us not forget that the SOA is just as powerful a lobby group as the PBA. Pearce's union roots run deep. At least Wilson had progressive ideas and wasn't Overton with a smile.
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Nov 28, 12 2:50 PM
The reason that the Superior Officers Association was formed was that superior officers found it inappropriate (AND, it made management so much more difficult) to be union brothers with their subordinates. Superior officers are management; patrol officers are labor.

One cannot help but wonder if former Chief Wilson's failure was caused by his supine acquiescence to the wishes of the PBA. The stupendous overtime he authorized was a gift to his supporters and the tremendously expensive ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 28, 12 6:15 PM
lifesaver, why is it a sad day? bob pearce is more than qualified, he will do a fine job as will the entire department. they always get the job done and moving forward things will continue to get better.
By semaj (10), riverside on Nov 28, 12 1:05 PM
I think she already answered you.
Acts like a puppet for Republican\Conservatives, outdated technology, and does not communicate with other departments.
It is in her comment if you bothered to think about it.
And HHS, you thought the police were incompetant and overpaid under Overton. Your so busy throwing lies and distortion in all direction without ever looking at the facts that you draw a dizzing circle of your own misguided dillusions regarding the police.
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Nov 28, 12 10:23 PM
Yes, he is very qualfied to be a puppet and so is HHS but, neither is capable of being a true strong leader. Chief Wilson is a true strong leader who left because he was fed up with Nuzzi and Malone's crap. Everything he wanted to implement to improve the department was denied. He fought an uphill battle constantly and got nowhere. So now we have a new puppet who will do as he is told and will sit in his corner and not make waves with the town board. That is not what this department needs. We are ...more
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Nov 29, 12 9:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
Chief Pearce good luck in your new position it is nice to see that a qualified career member of the town police was appointed.
By SHtaxwatch (4), Southampton on Nov 29, 12 8:13 AM
BREAKING NEWS: beginning today the STPD's new headquarters will be located in HHS's living room (which should be a slight upgrade from the HQ in Hampton Bays) however, the patrol officers will be wheeling eachother around in wheelbarrows and using slate tablets and chisels to write reports. All while the current chief/SOA president negotiates a contract for himself and the union he represents and the "labor" as HHS so elegantly put it (you know, the ones that do ALL of the work) runs from call to ...more
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Nov 29, 12 8:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
SHEER ABUSE of authority will now return and the banks will open again for the Superiors. Lieutenants faking addresses to take advantage of school districts without paying the tax. EAST QUOGUE SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD are YOU LISTENING. Thousands in illegal buyouts. Stealing of sick-time and outrageous accruals created by the uppers. Is the Town Board that blind or r they closing their eyes again. Smooth transition. Don't think so Chiefy !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whose watching are tax dollars being ...more
By carson (79), southampton on Nov 29, 12 6:58 PM
2 members liked this comment
It is Back to the Future for the Town Police..
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Dec 1, 12 9:55 PM