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Apr 16, 2010 4:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Police launch internal investigation into inappropriate computer use

Apr 16, 2010 4:23 PM

Southampton Village Police Chief William Wilson launched an expansive internal investigation late last week into possible inappropriate computer usage by members of his department.

One day later, a public safety dispatcher resigned, citing “personal reasons.”

All police computers are undergoing an internal audit to determine whether they have been used to view sexually explicit material or other material that is personal in nature and unrelated to an employee’s official job function, according to the chief. He said he began investigating after a Press reporter, following up on a news tip, questioned him about the possibility that members of the police department may have been using department computers to view or send pornography.

“Because people’s livelihoods could be affected, we’re taking this matter extremely seriously,” Chief Wilson said. By department policy, computers owned by the municipality are not to be used for personal or inappropriate subjects.

Meanwhile, a public safety dispatcher for the department, tendered her resignation late Friday, which Chief Wilson accepted and Mayor Mark Epley confirmed.

“She was one of several employees that we were going to speak to in reference to inappropriate computer usage,” Chief Wilson said this week. “We hadn’t had a chance to speak with her, but once someone resigns, they are no longer subject to an internal employment investigation.”

The dispatcher said on Tuesday that she resigned because of a scheduling conflict involving her children. She also said she was unaware of the internal investigation and, when asked if she had ever used department computers in an inappropriate way, replied, “Absolutely not.”

Mr. Epley said Wednesday morning that the investigation was actually an “escalation” of an ongoing matter. Chief Wilson said the mayor was mistaken and might have been thinking about “three or four different situations” that took place previously, which he declined to elaborate on. “There are 60 people working here. We do have employment-related issues,” he said.

The chief said he expects the computer usage investigation to last several weeks because of the technical nature of the audit.

“I will go back as far as I have to,” he said of the extent of the search. “If it reveals that there is inappropriate material, that’s going to be dealt with swiftly and deliberately. There’s no room in law enforcement for this type of behavior.”

“I’m thankful for the way Chief Wilson is handling these situations,” said Mr. Epley, who is also the village’s police commissioner. “He’s thorough. He’s communicating well to me. He’s protecting the integrity of the department.

“Obviously, there’s disappointment from my standpoint with people’s behaviors. Working for the Southampton Village Police Department is a great job. Sometimes people lose perspective on that.” Mr. Epley later clarified that the disappointment he feels is in having the need for an investigation at all.

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Sounds like a witch hunt to me.
By hamptonyte (13), Southampton on Apr 16, 10 5:07 PM
The story sure makes it sound as if the "witch" has already resigned. But then coincidences do happen, I guess.

Chief Wilson: “I will go back as far as I have to. If it reveals that there is inappropriate material, that’s going to be dealt with swiftly and deliberately,"

Chief Wilson conspicuously failed to include "inappropriate behavior" not related to computers, I note.


By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Apr 16, 10 5:17 PM
when I first read the line 'launched an expansive internal investigation' it looked like 'launched an expensive internal investigation'

why not just put net nanny on the computers, since they are acting like kids?
By quioguebirdfreak (25), quiogue on Apr 16, 10 6:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well, it probably is an "expensive" investigation too. Just take the number of hours spent on it, multiply by enourmous salary of "investigating" employee and voila!

Good heavens. Net nanny, websense, netguard, whatever. Any of these are used by schools, governments, and ohter places of employment where workers are prone to, well, slacking off.
By BobbyH (44), Southampton/NYC on Apr 16, 10 11:23 PM
the fox is guarding the henhouse. Glad we pay these dudes $150,000 a year with plenty of time to work second jobs...
By littleplains (305), olde england on Apr 16, 10 7:53 PM
5 members liked this comment
If it is technically possible, the police department should install a sound system on all computers that alerts the department any time an employee visits or, attempts to visit an off limits site.
By demivoix (2), East Hampton on Apr 16, 10 11:32 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Apr 16, 10 11:51 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Apr 16, 10 11:52 PM
I can't imagine the same department that violated a prisoner's rights and privacy during a strip search by allowing it to be viewed by male officers, would be looking at porn! Yah Think!!!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Apr 17, 10 12:18 AM
That was a female prisoner
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Apr 17, 10 12:19 AM
Who is supervising these cops? How do they have the time to sit in front of a computer and watch porn?

By DP377k (19), Southampton on Apr 17, 10 9:42 AM
Easy answer No One or maybe same person the supervising the budget
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 17, 10 5:40 PM
I gather from the article it was a dispatcher they were looking into.
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Apr 17, 10 1:03 PM
I think if you read the article again you may be able to gather some more info, the below excerpt seems to indicate they are looking into more than one employee.

“She was one of several employees that we were going to speak to in reference to inappropriate computer usage”
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Apr 17, 10 1:14 PM
It sounds like more mirrors and black drapes by the chief. The dispatcher is just a scapegoat.

The Porn is just a symptom. The disease is the inability of the department heads to run an effective organization.
When is the public going to understand that they will be better served by a real police department instead of a group of Good Ol Boys
By DP377k (19), Southampton on Apr 17, 10 7:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well, I don't know how Southampton works, but basically there is three types of systems. A statewide police information network, including connections to NCIC, DMV, etc. A highly secure and auditied network. No hanky panky on that type of network. Then you have a inhouse, semi-secure networked system, that stores department records of all kinds, etc. And lastly mobile data terminals that relay info to and from HQ to cars and other devices licensed to be in that network. The inhouse system would ...more
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Apr 17, 10 7:43 PM
Frank said:
Chief Wilson conspicuously failed to include "inappropriate behavior" not related to computers, I note.
Well noted! Could this be a selective investigation?


By whocanutrust (17), Southampton on Apr 17, 10 10:52 PM
You posters crack me up! If former disgruntled employees (and there are many) of the various PD’s didn’t post these ridiculous comments there wouldn’t be anything to read.

If you read the article you will see that the press received a “news tip” and then notified the PD of the allegations. The day after the tip a dispatcher resigned, would you want to discuss porn on a work computer with the boss? Wilson is notoriously harsh on employee misconduct; don’t be surprised to read of other resignations ...more
By thedudeabides (1), hampton bays on Apr 18, 10 2:49 PM
never did work for any PD . . .
By quioguebirder (11), on Apr 18, 10 7:27 PM
SO HOW ARE YOU RELATED TO THE CHIEF????
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 19, 10 12:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By PBA (14), Southampton on Apr 18, 10 10:45 PM
3 members liked this comment
It's good to be Chief -- except in Westhampton Beach.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Apr 19, 10 12:10 AM
I did not know Westhampton Beach had a real chief!!
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 19, 10 12:14 AM
It used to -- then the Village Board marginalized him and that's what you've got today. A well-compensated Chief who's not allowed to run his department, suspended-with-full-pay officers being protected by a trio of corrupt Trustees, and high-paid cops on duty sleeping the days aand nights away or working second jobs instead of "protecting and serving."

Even the Beach Blogger who has always supported the Chief now wants to abolish the PD. Greenport did it, and they're doing fine!
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Apr 19, 10 9:55 AM
Well finally we agree Frank.
But the so-called chief is more than well-compensated
Maybe the Beach Blogger would all so support getting rid of the board
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 19, 10 12:15 PM
That would mean disbanding the entire village, you mar-roon! Then what? You'd be griping about how you never see a Southampton Town cop in the area.

We see the Town Police very rarely -- and we're in an outpost on the corner of the Town -- but we're quite happy to not be part of Pine Valley anymore!

It seems most of Westhampton Beach -- except you -- likes their little village.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Apr 20, 10 9:55 AM
That must have been a solid shot.

Sad I missed it...
By Mr. Z (11670), North Sea on Apr 20, 10 7:37 PM
"Frank"
Another remark that proves you are nothing more than a AIR-BAG!!
We hardly ever see the Westhampton Beach PD now.
So what would change if it was disbanded??
Instead of making your mar-roon remaks, maybe you should start reading other comments besides mine since I am not the only one that is not unhappy like you state.
If you remember correctly (for once) maybe you can remember that when the Post Stop was held up at gun point the 1ST police department to show up was ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 20, 10 8:55 PM
WHO CARES!!!!!!!! This kind of thing happens all of the time, most places of employment have an internet usage policy that clearly details what the consequences are for violation of said policy. Hopefully going forward, the SVPD will begin monitoring usage, and blocking access to certain sites and if they do not have an IT usage policy they will create and implement one ASAP. I am trying to understand why something that is a common occurrence in workplaces everywhere is news. In most cases the ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Apr 19, 10 9:26 AM
The people care who pay them and it is about time people do something about all this crap going on
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 19, 10 12:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Apr 19, 10 9:45 AM
Pstevens - I care. If you paid property taxes in the Village of Southampton, you might care too. Being informed on what our local police department is up to is not a drawback of working and living in a small town, it’s a benefit. Thank you Southampton Press for your ongoing coverage of this police department.

Thedudeabides – Your post cracks me up. Of course, It’s the readers fault for commenting, the dispatchers fault for resigning and the 27east’s fault for printing.
By NSea (10), Southampton on Apr 19, 10 9:49 AM
3 members liked this comment
Know I don't pay property taxes...but I have family and friends living in the village that do...and guess what? THEY DON'T CARE!!! Here is what is going to happen. There will be an audit, people will be disciplined or fired or resign...the SVPD will start blocking sites...and certain kinds of content. Life will go on. You may see a spike in your tax dollars because of the IT upgrade that is soon to follow based on the auditors findings and recommendations. I'm thinking if they had the required ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Apr 20, 10 1:31 PM
Fair enough, we’re all absolutely entitled to our opinions. .Mine is that, I’m concerned that members of our local police department are at headquarters engaging in inappropriate behavior.. If your friends & family don’t care that their tax dollars are directly paying for it, that’s their right. A civil service job should be taken seriously at all times.
By NSea (10), Southampton on Apr 20, 10 2:18 PM
It appears the chief is in need of monitoring too.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Apr 19, 10 10:58 AM
5 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By March Madness (7), Southampton on Apr 19, 10 12:45 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Apr 20, 10 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By NSea (10), Southampton on Apr 20, 10 9:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Apr 20, 10 10:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Just so long as they don't have to break out the Taser. Not a great track record there.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Apr 19, 10 2:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ouch!
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Apr 20, 10 10:00 AM
DUDE!!!!!!
By Mr. Z (11670), North Sea on Apr 20, 10 7:40 PM
Ironically the Village of Southampton and the Southampton Village Police PBA are in contract talks for pay raises and extra benefits. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires soon. Conveniently the contract with the Chief of Police and the Village of Southampton expires this time next year. I wonder if this story and the others like it will remain in the long term memory of the Public and the Village Board?
By PBA (14), Southampton on Apr 19, 10 8:34 PM
Really "March Madness"? "Even the President did it" Really?
Thanks for the history leason

the bottom line is these village cops are exhibiting a learned behavior. They emulate their leaders. As a village resident, I care and demand better service from these public servants. These guys/girls don't do this at home because their husbands/wives don't allow it, why should we? What am I paying for? A PD or a day care?
By DP377k (19), Southampton on Apr 19, 10 10:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
I think that March Madness is not only a member of the PD I thing he is on duty monitoring the blog. Your right about using the computer at work instead the computer at home.
By PBA (14), Southampton on Apr 19, 10 10:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Commenters: Please refrain from posting unsubstantiated rumors regarding people's personal lives. Thank you.
By BOReilly (135), 27east Web Editor on Apr 20, 10 10:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
Mayor Epley and/or the Village Board should request that theSuffolk County Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau conduct the internal investigation of Chief Wilson and remaining Officers and Civilian Dispatchers involved.

This has been done in the past by both Chief Overton and Chief Ray Dean. The Village Employees and the Village residents would be better served.
By PBA (14), Southampton on Apr 22, 10 9:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
As I read about the levels of security in the PD computer system, it hearkened me to the days when a certain WHBVPO retired in lieu of being outed for inappropriate use of the secure and privileged information portion of their databases!
By Jean (79), whb on Apr 23, 10 9:57 AM
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