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Mar 10, 2010 11:06 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village police chief rescinds internal rule governing secondary employment

Mar 10, 2010 11:06 AM

Southampton Village Police Chief William Wilson on Tuesday rescinded internal police department 
regulations governing secondary employment, saying records of second jobs held by police officers will no longer be kept because they were too restrictive and were being used against the officers.

Chief Wilson said he rescinded General Order 110, a rule that puts a number of regulations on off-duty officers’ secondary employment—such as capping the hours they can work and limiting the kinds of jobs they can do—effective Tuesday and replaced it with an 
order deferring to federal and state regulations, which he said are more lenient.

The chief’s decision came about a month after he fought requests from The Southampton Press seeking the release of copies of officers’ secondary employment records. Chief Wilson claimed the documents were private personnel records protected by law and said he would release them only under a court order. Two weeks later, he acquiesced after The Press appealed an initial rejection of the request, filed under the Freedom of Information Law, to the Village Board.

In a first round of disclosures, the chief withheld key information including the officers’ ranks and the number of hours they wanted to work at their second jobs. He later released all the requested information: the names and ranks of the officers, the nature of the work they planned to do in their second jobs, and the number of hours they planned to work.

Questioned on Tuesday, the police chief summed up his reasons for changing the internal regs: “If we don’t maintain the documents then obviously they can’t be FOILed. I went about this incorrectly and was doing what thought I was best for the department. But I went about it the wrong way.”

Mr. Epley, who sought the legal opinion of Village Attorney Richard DePetris before calling for the release of the latest round of information, took issue with Chief Wilson’s decision to eliminate the secondary employment regulations and replace them with less stringent ones.

“I do care, because it’s one of things that we’ve been very aggressive, I guess, with,” Mr. Epley said, explaining that the village takes pride in keeping its government transparent. “I think the discussion has to be what’s the betterment for the community, instead of acting out of frustration.”

Mr. Epley said that he did not know what, if any, power he had to prevent the police chief from making the change. He said he would consult Mr. DePetris.

Chief Wilson, however, is standing by his decision to rescind the order and “relax” the guidelines.

“I decided that General Order 110 was, number one, detrimental to the police officers themselves, and probably too restrictive,” he said on Monday. “As was reported previously, the [Patrolman’s Benevolent Association] was none
 too happy with the way that that 
information was going to be disseminated.

“Then we get to the current situation in which, for whatever reasons, the rules I had in place are in turn being used against, or could be used against, the employees of the police department,” he continued.

The village’s PBA had reportedly told village officials that it would file a lawsuit if the information was released, and the chief has maintained that a 
frequent critic of the department planned to use the information to harass his officers.

Prior to The Press’s efforts to obtain the secondary employment information, the village refused former police officer Christopher Broich’s FOIL request for the same documents citing essentially the same reasons. Village officials, including Chief Wilson and Mayor Epley, said they were concerned about what Mr. Broich, long a thorn in the side of the village that fired him in 2007, would do with it. They speculated he would use the information to harass village officers.

This week, Chief Wilson said the PBA did not pressure him to change the regulations, and he added that his fears about how the information could be used reaches beyond Mr. Broich—to criminals the police have arrested.

“There’s no grand conspiracy here—I just have to be cognizant of exposing the information of whoever police officers work with,” Chief Wilson said. “There are plenty of people out there with axes to grind, and we’ve put a substantial [number] of people behind bars.”

The village has not released any information that would identify the companies individual police officers are working for. And according to an opinion written by state Committee on Open Government’s Executive Director Robert J. Freeman at the request of The Press, and shared with village officials and Chief Wilson, it doesn’t have to. Mr. Freeman has said the portions of the records that identify the secondary employers may be withheld.

Still, the chief said he thinks that some individual or media outlet could end up forcing all of the information on the form—such as the secondary employer’s phone number—to be public, which he feels would be a gross violation of an officer’s privacy.

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Oh, please. He doesn't want this information seeing the light of day. Forbid him from destroying the information. If he has already done so, fire him.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 10, 10 12:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
HIHATSIZE, Again, I almost always seem to agree with you. Jessica and the Press have done another outstanding job. The nerve of Chief Wilson to try and cover up and manipulate information that is a constitutional right of the people.(Freedom of Information Law). It just shows the scheming that goes on behind closed doors and lack of knowledge of constitutional law. The Police chief thinks he's above the law. Wrong. Now, the taxpayers will trust SH PD less and less. This episode hurts the police ...more
By Johnny Nova (83), Northampton on Mar 13, 10 2:17 PM
good for wilson!!! he is trying to make his department better and then it bites him in the butt. Information that is personal should not have been released to the public.. it really is noone elses business!
By dee (14), southampton on Mar 10, 10 2:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
I take his action as an acknowledgedment that General Order 110 was not being followed.
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Mar 10, 10 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Kudos to Chief Wilson for releasing the documents requested by The Press under FOIL. Well done.

Chief Wilson, however, is also obligated by law (as he and Mr. DePetris are presumably aware) to retain all paper records for a number of years under various laws and regulations. Any second job records which were not part of The Press's initial FOIL request (especially the latter part of 2009 and 2010) MUST be retained under current document retention laws.

ALL second job documents ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 10, 10 5:09 PM
I be interested to see if all the officers and ordinance guys have shown if they worked at the little store (HR&S) on Jobs lane near the corner of Main,That the top dog has been running the summer security at for years.
The Mayor and Board now know who's running the show and it's not them it's the chief.
By nobs (1), southampton on Mar 10, 10 8:57 PM
By posting your anonymous observations of where you believe officers have been working you are making the Chief’s point of why this information should not be released. Why don’t you post where their spouses work, kids go to school etc…

The PD administration is supposed to run the department, not the politicians. That’s why we have Civil Service controls in place, so when a leader makes, what may be an unpopular decision for the greater good there will be no political repercussions. The ...more
By taxraven (26), Southampton on Mar 10, 10 9:36 PM
Lets not confuse the issue. It is the nature of the work- not the location- which would disclosed.
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Mar 11, 10 10:14 AM
Wrong! One of the things that Southampton Press was looking for - and GOT in the second release of information - was the location of the officers secondary employment. That was a major part of the reason that Wilson wanted to withhold the information in the first place...
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on Mar 11, 10 3:25 PM
Just to be clear: In the final documents provided by the chief, the name of the companies involved and the location of the secondary employment was NOT provided. It was redacted, as state open government officials said it could be. The Press has chosen not to challenge that portion of the state's opinion and agreed to accept the documents with that information redacted.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Mar 15, 10 12:28 PM
Perhaps I am missing something in all of this. Why was the press so adamant about getting these records and what did they intend on doing with them when they get them?

Long Island is an expensive place to live and we reside in the most costly part of it. If someone has the time to work a second job and make some extra money why can't they be allowed to do so?
By Damon.Hagan (34), Southampton on Mar 11, 10 9:36 AM
This is not about someone being granted or denied permission to work a second job. It is about the Village of Southampton complying with Freedom of Information(FOI) requests.
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Mar 11, 10 10:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
The law is what they (Police) are paid to enforce, as well as follow. There should be no thanks in order here, this wasn't a favor or choice he made, it was a legal obligation he had to comply with the FOIL.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Mar 13, 10 9:07 PM
What part of THE CHIEF HANDED OVER ALL OF THE REQUIRED INFORMATION is not being comprehended here?

Last I checked police officers do not only deal with traffic violations. Sometimes they have to arrest people who commit terrible crimes. Should those people have the right to know where to find the officers on their off time? Should they be given information which could potentially put the officers, their families or secondary employer in danger?

This information should have never ...more
By March Madness (7), Southampton on Mar 11, 10 11:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
He handed over all the information he thinks is required. The information required does not include addresses of outside employment. Merely the nature of the work. And, yes, they do deal with bad people. It is the nature of the job. But, after an arrest, is their name a secret? No. What will result is something like this:

PO John Doe electrician 20 hours (various check marks and x's for items such as licenced, insured, etc)

Very anticlimactic in my opinion. Requesting such minimal ...more
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Mar 11, 10 1:37 PM
I guess he showed us, huh?

I have no objection to blanking out information that could compromise the safety of an individual.

However, why was the _number_of_hours_worked_ omitted from the first release? Is the _number_of_hours_worked_ something omitted to protect the officer, or somebody else?

It's too tempting to work an 8 hour day and then go into the night shift. The fact is that what he officer is doing and how long he is doing it directly effects his safety and ...more
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Mar 12, 10 6:41 AM
I'm with Chief Wilson.

We don't have the right to know everything about every public servant, and privacy issues are something that everyone should be concerned about and willing to stand up for.

There is no reason that a "policy" should be given the weight of statute, and no reason, in the absence of a local statute, that the local policy should be permitted to exceed state and federal satutes.

Follow the proper procedure, enact a local statute, then see if it holds ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Mar 12, 10 7:51 AM
Thank you Mr. Shaw for clarifying the exact nature of the documents released under FOIL in your 12:28 post today above.

An excellent balance was stuck here between the public's right to know under FOIL, and the officers' right to privacy. No second job locations or employers were revealed. Essentially, this was a "data request" and many commentators here seem to have missed that point IMO. Very little "private" data was revealed at all.

Thank you also to Chief Wilson, Mr. DePetris, ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 15, 10 6:24 PM
"struck" that is!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 15, 10 6:32 PM