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Aug 18, 2010 10:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suspended Southampton Village Police sergeant will retire

Aug 18, 2010 10:46 AM

Southampton Village Police Sergeant Erik Fromm filed his retirement papers last week in the midst of an internal investigation that led to his immediate suspension last month—all but guaranteeing that the reasons for his suspension will never be made public.

Sgt. Fromm is the fourth employee since April to be allowed to retire or resign from the Village Police Department during or after an internal investigation.

Police Chief William Wilson Jr. and Mayor Mark Epley have refused to explain why Sgt. Fromm was suspended with pay on July 20, but did say it involved an incident unrelated to a recent computer investigation that was connected to the departure or pending departure of three other employees.

Both officials have also expressed wariness over the time and financial costs of disciplinary hearings and have said they therefore prefer that an employee retire or resign.

“The cost of going through a hearing and the impact that it has on employees and morale is significant, and if there’s opportunities to have someone retire or resign instead of going through a labor hearing, you know, that’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Epley said this week. “It’s the right thing for the taxpayers, it’s the right thing for the department, and it’s the right thing for the employees.”

Sgt. Fromm, whose retirement will take effect within 30 days of his August 11 filing, declined to discuss the matter.

“I’ve been better,” he replied when reached by phone on Tuesday. “I really have nothing to say.”

Village Administrator Stephen Funsch said Sgt. Fromm’s pension has not yet been calculated, but according to the state Comptroller’s Office website, the pension for employees of the police department is equal to one-half of the employee’s “final average salary,” if the employee has at least 20 years of creditable service. Sgt. Fromm has worked for the department for 25 years. The “final average salary” is defined as the average of wages earned during any 36 consecutive months when earnings were the highest—usually the final three years of employment.

Sgt. Fromm earned an annual salary of nearly $126,000, not including benefits, this year, village officials have said.

Civil Rights Law Section 50-a prohibits disclosure of any records related to complaints made about police officers, whether those complaints are made by civilians or fellow officers. According to village code, reasons for discipline in the police department include violating rules, regulations, directives or orders of the department (misconduct), disobedience or incompetency, neglect or dereliction in performance of official duty, an act of delinquency “seriously affecting” one’s general character or fitness for office or any other breach of the department’s rules of conduct.

Last month, Mr. Epley confirmed that Southampton Village Police Department’s chief public safety dispatcher, Wayne Petry, would not be disciplined for downloading pornographic photos and videos onto his work computer. Instead, the village is allowing Mr. Petry to go on “terminal leave” sometime in September and retire sometime in December. Terminal leave refers to employees taking accumulated time off before they officially end their employment.

The pornography on Mr. Petry’s computer was uncovered during an investigation of police department computers launched by Chief Wilson on April 8. Another public safety dispatcher, Amy Hertling, resigned unexpectedly the day after the investigation was launched, and police Sergeant Arthur Schucht filed his retirement papers shortly thereafter. The chief said both were among the employees who used two shared workstations on which other illicit content was found, but once employees leave the department, they are no longer subject to any internal investigations, and Chief Wilson has said he is legally prevented from discussing issues involving them.

When asked about replacing the sergeants, Mr. Epley said the chief is looking at the staffing patterns in the department but has not yet made any recommendations, in part because he has recently been preoccupied with providing security for the recent visit of Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. to the village.

Regarding the replacement of Mr. Petry, the seniormost public safety dispatcher, the mayor said the village—aware there was an investigation going on—had hired an extra dispatcher earlier in the year. The mayor noted that the staff of dispatchers was “undermanned,” that most of the overtime hours in the department are incurred by dispatchers, that work with the E911 system requires quality training, and that Mr. Petry was expected to retire within the “next couple of years anyway.”

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Who's Next?
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Aug 19, 10 1:32 AM
Must be the porn on his computer.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Aug 19, 10 11:14 AM
"The sergeant earned an annual salary of nearly $126,000, not including benefits, this year, village officials have said."

Add in benefits for this year, and all prior years, then add in all retirement costs PLUS RETIREMENT BENEFITS !!!. Then pay all of this plus interest out over the next 40 years +/-.

Then add in all of the above costs for all other human beings who have left the department, and factor these costs in to the Village budget for the next 40 years. [Petry etc.]

This ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 19, 10 5:46 PM
PS -- to quote the article:

"all but guaranteeing that the reasons for his suspension will never be made public."

NO WAY this will remain non-public.

Editor and Ms. Reynolds, please file the necessary FOIA request documents ASAP for all SHV PD departures ASAP.

We taxpayers are entitled to know this information. If Chief Wilson, Mayor Epley, the Village Board, and Village Attorney DePetris disagree, please reply here (or issue a Press Release publicly), stating ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 19, 10 5:54 PM
Really, who cares what Fromm did. Move on. Or do your own FOIL request.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Aug 22, 10 6:58 AM
sounds like you jelly
By ghost (29), hampton bays on Aug 24, 10 5:39 AM
you so jelly
By ghost (29), hampton bays on Aug 24, 10 5:39 AM
If it is unrelated to the computer investigation, and possibly a complaint filed against him, those records are not included in FOIL requests. Once an employee files for retirement, their record is sealed since they are no longer a civil service employee. So yes, this will remain "non-public" And I agree with Draggerman, really who cares? It is a safe village, there are police officers who come when you call or they are needed (which, out here for the most part, those two don't go hand in hand). ...more
By acallahan (8), Southampton on Aug 26, 10 8:02 AM
Just read the papers. It's not exactly a secret.

http://www.27east.com/story_detail.cfm?n=Southampton%20Village%20Police%20investigation%20discovers%20porn%20on%20department%20computers&town=Southampton&id=288073
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Aug 19, 10 11:29 PM
Thank you Noah Way for the link to the 7/7/10 article about pornographic material being discovered on the SHV PD computers. [which BTW editor is not linked above]

To quote you:

"Just read the papers. It's not exactly a secret."

Does the article cited above provide all answers to the multiple factual questions posed just above?

Noah Way!

Please provide more detailed answers to the specific questions from yesterday's posts at 5:46 and 5:54 PM.

Perhaps ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 20, 10 7:46 PM
PS--

To quote from the article:

_____________________________________________________

"Sgt. Fromm is the fourth employee since April to be allowed to retire or resign from the Village Police Department during or after an internal investigation.

Police Chief William Wilson Jr. and Mayor Mark Epley have refused to explain why Sgt. Fromm was suspended with pay on July 20, but did say it involved an incident unrelated to a recent computer investigation that was connected ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 20, 10 7:52 PM
can we get this guy a blog
By ghost (29), hampton bays on Aug 24, 10 5:39 AM
PBR, why so angry?
By 429shellback (5), Suffolk on Aug 24, 10 6:54 PM
I think the village could use this to downsize the force without jeoperdising public safety. Public services are being scaled back everywhere. Retire, don't re-hire.
PBR? I hear cop stories all the time. I bet you have some good ones. Somebody really pissed you off.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Aug 26, 10 11:32 AM
How can a Southampton Village Police Officer make that much money? No wonder your budgets are out of wack. NYC police officers make half that and face way more danger.
By Walt (292), Southampton on Aug 27, 10 8:56 PM
I spend very little tie in Southampton VIllage since that fellow was arrested to death, a few years back. That incident happened over by the Rail Road station. Dozens of teachers and school children watched it ini full.

I got to have a look at some documents concerning that and was appalled.

I suppose if you are not a billionaire, you have to watch out for the SHV police. whatever.
By FellowTraveller (6), HamptonBays on Oct 30, 10 5:07 PM